A New Jersey appeals court on Friday ruled that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s ban against discrimination based on “marital status” applies to people who are going through a divorce.
When originally written, the LAD did not define the meaning of marital status, leaving it in question whether it could refer to someone changing from married to unmarried through the process of divorce. Friday’s ruling by a two-judge panel of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, put this issue to rest in its finding that, “we interpret ‘marital status’ to encompass the state of being divorced . . . divorce unquestionably affects marital status.”
The discrimination case in question was based on a New Jersey worker’s suit alleging his employer fired him because of his pending divorce from a co-worker. With this ruling now decided, the worker is free to pursue compensation for damages encountered due to job loss.
What does this ruling mean for you? It is important to feel protected in the workplace when going through the process of divorce, and this ruling should help give you greater peace of mind. If your divorce also involves domestic violence, be aware that New Jersey provides for certain other protections in the workplace via the NJ SAFE ACT. These additional protections include providing protected leave time for attorney visits, court actions, and doctor’s visits.