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Sexual Orientation is not one of the protected classes pursuant to federal law. However, if an employee falls victim to discrimination, sexual harassment and/or retaliation, and as horrible and depressing that employee may feel as a result, the employee will have one thing to smile about if the discrimination or sexual harassment occurred when the employee is employed in New Jersey. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) is considered one of the most aggressive anti-discrimination statutes in the country.

Courts in New Jersey continually recognize that the New Jersey Legislature enacted this statute for the specific purpose of eradicating the cancer of discrimination in the workplace. The LAD is considered such a powerful statute that attorneys in New Jersey do not even consider filing a complaint in federal court. In fact, legal scholars in New Jersey consider the filing of a discrimination lawsuit in a New Jersey federal court legal malpractice. Filing a LAD claim in a New Jersey State court is generally the best option. For this reason, the EEOC is New Jersey is generally not utilized.

In essence, with respect to the three major federal anti-discrimination statutes: Title VII, the ADEA and the ADAAA (formerly known as the ADA), consider all of them combined, with no minimum number of employees and no cap on punitive and compensatory damages. That, in essence, is the LAD. So long as a New Jersey employee files a lawsuit in a New Jersey State court within two years of the discrimination, harassment or retaliation by the employer, the employee can take full advantage of all of the benefits which the LAD has to offer.

The protections available under the LAD are also much more expansive than those offered pursuant to the federal laws. Pursuant to Title VII, the ADEA and the ADAAA (formerly known as the ADA), the following is protected: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability. The LAD offers protection for each of those protected classes and also protects against discrimination based on numerous protected classes, such as ancestry, sexual orientation, services in the armed forces, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, domestic partnership status and civil union status.

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