Executive Summary: Governor Chris Christie signed into law New Jersey Senate Bill S726, expanding the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to prohibit all forms of discrimination against members of the Armed Forces and veterans. The law was signed on August 7, 2017, and took effect immediately.

Amendment Prohibits Discrimination against Military Personnel and Veterans

S726 extends “full protection of the Law Against Discrimination to persons having liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, guaranteeing equal employment opportunity in State contracting to all veterans.” The law amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to enhance the protection already afforded to military personnel and veterans. (NJLAD expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, pregnancy, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, sex, gender identity or expression, disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, or because of the liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States or the nationality of any individual, or because of the refusal to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test to an employer.)

The prior law protected members of the Armed Forces only under certain provisions. The amendment offers the same level of protection for military personnel as the other protected classes. This includes prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, lending practices, public accommodations and more.

With regard to State construction contracting, contractors and subcontractors must now guarantee equal employment opportunity to all veterans. The previous version was limited to veterans from the Vietnam era.

Employers’ Bottom Line

The amended law extends full protection of the Law Against Discrimination for persons having liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States. Employers who do business in New Jersey should review their policies to ensure compliance with the law.