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Public Accommodation Discrimination

Public Accommodation Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination ( LAD) was enacted originally in 1945 and has been amended many times to provide more and stronger protections for the inhabitants of New Jersey.  Although the LAD is widely thought of as an employment discrimination law, the statute protects the citizens of New Jersey in a much broader context.  All persons shall have the opportunity to obtain employment, and to obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any place of public accommodation, publicly assisted housing accommodation, and other real property without discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, familial status, or sex, subject only to conditions and limitations applicable alike to all persons. This opportunity is recognized as and declared to be a civil right.

N.J.S.A. 10:5-4. This means that, if you were harassed or discriminated against at a gas station, bowling alley, hospital, the daycare center, or any of the thousands of other places of public accommodation that we all come into contact with throughout the course of our lives, you may have a legal claim that we can help you with.

The LAD defines the term “place of public accommodation” to include, but not be limited to, taverns, hotels, camps, retail stores, restaurants, garages, seashore accommodations, auditoriums, skating rinks, swimming pools, hospitals, clinics, libraries, preschools, primary or secondary schools, colleges and universities. According to the statute, “It shall be unlawful discrimination . . . [f]or any owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent, or employee of any place of public accommodation directly or indirectly to refuse, withhold from or deny to any person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges thereof, or to discriminate against any person in the furnishing thereof, . . . on account of” a person’s protected status, such as race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability or age. Thus, if you have been harassed at or denied access to a place of public accommodation because of some protected status, you may have a claim under LAD.

An example of a discrimination case in a public accommodations setting is D.B. v. Bloom, 896 F. Supp. 166 (D.N.J. 1995). In D.B. v. Bloom, plaintiff brought an action against a dentist and dental office under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the LAD, alleging that he was denied service after the dentist discovered that he was HIV positive. Citing N.J.S.A. 10:5-12 (f), the court found that plaintiff was handicapped, that the dental clinic was a place of public accommodation, and that plaintiff was denied services and equal treatment by defendants by virtue of his disability in violation of LAD. The court further found that the defendants “willfully and intentionally disregarded D.B.’s rights, which justifies the award of punitive damages for the purpose of deterring future similar egregious conduct.” Id. at 171.

  • Know Your Rights as an Employee
    Princeton Adult School Zoom Online Video Conference
    Tuesday, October 13, 2020 from 7:00–8:30 pm.

    Elizabeth Zuckerman, Esq. will be conducting a virtual course on October 13, 2020 - Know Your Rights as an Employee. Topics include harassment, hostile work environment and discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and other protected statuses. The concept of reasonable accommodation and the interactive process will be explored. There will be discussion regarding the New Jersey whistle-blower law, wage and hour laws, family leave laws, non-compete agreements, new employee protections as a result of COVID-19 and common law claims, such as breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In addition, hypothetical employment claims based on real life employment experiences will be discussed. Register at https://www.ssreg.com/princeton/classes/results.asp?code=120.

  • New Jersey Planning Officials Training Session - October 3, 2020

    Edwin W. Schmierer, Esq., a firm Director, will be an instructor for the New Jersey Planning Official’s Planning and Zoning Board members training session in Somerset County on October 3, 2020. Mr. Schmierer chairs the firm’s Government Practice Group and represents a number of land use boards including the Lawrence Township Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Borough of Pennington Joint Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment and the West Windsor Zoning Board of Adjustment. The New Jersey Planning Officials can be reached at [email protected] for any land use board member interested in attending the training session.

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  • COVID-19 Employment & Financial Update (3/24/2020)

    Click Link Here to read important information regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

  • NELA-NJ Attorney Zuckerman

    In a recent decision (Justin Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc.), the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that an employee who is fired for using medical marijuana outside the workplace may bring a claim for disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Mason, Griffin & Pierson Attorney, Elizabeth Zuckerman, who argued the cause for Amicus Curiae National Employment Lawyers Association of New Jersey, stated the "decision is a win for employees who test positive for marijuana due to their lawful use of medical marijuana outside the workplace."