April 18, 2024

Business Bib

Business & Finance Blog

Statute of Limitations on Harassment in New Jersey: What you need to Know

3 min read

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protect workers against discrimination and exploitation by their employers. The state has fifteen categories of protected characteristics or traits that fall under the NJLAD:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Genetic information
  • Military service
  • Color
  • Ancestry
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • National origin
  • Marital status
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Genetic information
  • Atypical cellular or blood trait
  • Disability
  • Affectional or sexual orientation

How long is the statute of limitation on harassment?

The statute of limitation for discrimination claims in New Jersey is two years from the day of the incident. That means that if you complained about racial discrimination in New Jersey, you can only file a lawsuit within two years of the incident. The same applies for retaliation.

Retaliation is when an employer takes an action against an employee for opposing one or more of the practices prohibited by the New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination. Retaliation can be in the form of demotion, suspension from work, or even dismissal. Employers who have demoted, denied promotions, or disciplined employees who opposed acts of discrimination or pressed discrimination charges have committed the offense of unlawful retaliation as defined by the NJLAD.

When does the statute start running

Unlike personal injury and property damage cases, determining when the limitation period should begin in a discrimination claim may seem difficult, but that’s actually not the case. For instance, if you are unlawfully fired for presenting a complaint against acts bound by the NJLAD, the clock begins ticking on the day you are fired.

Instances where employees may find it difficult determining when the statute should start running include when the discrimination has been going on for a long time. Should it be when the harassment began or when it ended?

Well, there is a doctrine that addresses long term harassment and discrimination acts. Unlike in a discrete employment action where the statute starts running on the day the action is taken, long term harassment is bound by the continuing violation doctrine which provides that the statute of limitations begins only when the harassment or discrimination stops. So, if you have been facing acts of discrimination at the workplace for the last two years, the statute starts counting when the wrong action stops even if it is today.

Filing a discrimination claim in New Jersey

Discrimination claims in New Jersey can be filed with the federal administrative agency or the state administrative agency (the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights respectively). The two agencies, through a work-sharing agreement, process claims in a complementary partnership. You, however, do not need to file the case with each agency separately; by simply indicating that you want the agency you file with to “cross-file” the case with the other agency, you express your wish to have both of them involved.

Your attorney will help you determine the agency to file your claim with. Note that the federal agency only accepts claims from employees who work for employers with 15 or more colleagues. A few other limiting laws apply, so it is crucial that you consult a lawyer before taking any step.