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Common Discriminatory Workplace Policies to Remain Aware Of

By Tom McKinney
NJ Employment Attorney

Numerous federal, state, and local laws exist to protect you from discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, employers, managers, and employees continue to implement and enforce discriminatory policies in some workplaces throughout New Jersey.

Whether they do so unwittingly or purposefully, the effect is still the same: violated workers’ rights. If you have experienced or witnessed any of the following discriminatory policies at work, you can seek counsel to protect your right to work in a place free of discrimination.

Discriminatory Grooming Requirements and Dress Codes

Companies are permitted to establish reasonable dress codes and grooming standards. However, they do not have carte blanche to implement discriminatory policies or bans that discriminate.

For example, many religions require members to wear certain religious garb, such as yarmulkes. If a work policy bans yarmulkes unreasonably, the policy is likely discriminatory. The same holds for policies that unfairly discriminate against individuals’ gender, such as policies dealing with hair length, color, and style, as well as discriminatory dress policies.

Compelled Participation in Religious Observances

Company owners who are very serious about their faith and religion sometimes go too far with work policies intended to embody their beliefs. They may institute or forbid certain activities based on their faith and beliefs.

For example, a boss may attempt to forbid certain forms of speech or dress at work that go against their religion. However, workers have the right to express their religion in a reasonable fashion while on the job, even if doing so offends the beliefs of the boss.

A boss might also try to compel employees to participate in religious activities that offend one or more employees. Doing so is unlawful, especially if the boss retaliates against employees who opt out of said activities. 

Discriminatory Retirement Policies

No one can work forever. At some point, age forces everyone to stop working. However, employers who prematurely require employees to retire usually do so unlawfully. According to the Age in Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA), employers can not use age to compel retirement or for any purpose except for a few narrow circumstances.

Sadly, discrimination at this level continues to be a problem in many industries. It is also rampant at the hiring stage, making it difficult to address.

Since employers can hide that they didn’t hire someone because of their age, how can you prove that age was a factor? It is difficult but possible, especially if the employer has a pattern of age discrimination against potential hires and employees. 

Discriminatory Pregnancy Policies

Pregnancy cannot be the basis for discriminatory action in the workplace. And under no circumstances can an employer terminate an employee simply because they got pregnant. 

In fact, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees who continue to work while with child. Additionally, covered individuals are entitled to maternity leave to care for their newborn children. 

Discrimination Based on Citizenship 

Discrimination work policies based on a person’s citizenship are illegal unless required by state or federal law. Hence, employers may not treat non-citizen employees or prospective employees differently than those with full citizenship. As long as they are a permanent or legal resident of the U.S., they enjoy the same rights and privileges as citizen workers.

Fighting for Your Rights in New Jersey

At NJ Employment Lawyers, LLC, we are ready and able to fight for your right to enjoy a workplace free of discrimination and harassment in New Jersey. If you have faced either while at work, contact our employment law attorneys today for a consultation to learn how we can help.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is a skilled employment law attorney with New Jersey Employment Lawyers LLC. He has a track record of success in all areas of employment law, including sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment, wrongful discharge, whistleblower claims and hostile work environment claims. Besides litigation, Tom handles severance agreements and severance package reviews/negotiations for over 100 people each year. If you have any questions regarding this blog, contact Tom here.