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New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law now applies to teleworkers
New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law now applies to teleworkers

New Jersey Anti-Discrimination Law: New guidance clarifies how state anti-discrimination protections apply to remote workers (US)

Although the pandemic is (thankfully) mostly behind us, many employers who have adopted remote working arrangements as a pandemic measure have maintained hybrid in-office/remote or fully remote working models, providing welcome flexibility for employees and giving employers a larger pool of workers to draw from. However, the dramatic rise in remote working arrangements has brought uncertainty about what laws apply to employees who are not physically present in the workplace.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office (“AG”) and the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (“DCR”) recently issued guidance interpreting New Jersey’s Anti-Discrimination Law (“NJLAD”) as it relates specifically to remote employees. Like the federal Anti-Discrimination Law, the NJLAD prohibits New Jersey employers from discriminating against employees or applicants based on, among other things, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, and disability. NJSA10:5-12(a). The Attorney General and DCR’s May 2024 guidance explains that even fully remote employees – those who work for New Jersey employers but are not physically present in New Jersey – are protected under the NJLAD. In other words, an employee does not have to be a New Jersey resident or even physically work in New Jersey to be protected by the NJLAD, as the law applies to all employees of an employer in New Jersey, regardless of its physical location. The AG and DCR point to the broad language of the NJLAD—specifically, the application of the law to “all persons,” “any person or class of persons,” and “any individual”—as evidence that the NJLAD is not limited to employees who reside or have their primary place of work in New Jersey. Similarly, the guidance concludes, the NJLAD may extend to teleworkers who reside in New Jersey but work for an employer in another state, provided the employees can establish a connection between their employer and the employer’s business in the state of New Jersey.

Based on this guidance, employers doing business in New Jersey or employing New Jersey-based remote workers should ensure that their employment practices comply with applicable state laws, including the NJLAD.

By Seren