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New Jersey Launches Portal for Filing Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation, and Bias Complaints

In an attempt to make it easier for individuals to file complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation and to report bias offenses, New Jersey has launched a new internet portal entitled the “New Jersey Bias Investigation Access System”: Individuals can file complaints involving the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and New Jersey Family Leave with the NJ Division on Civil Rights and bias offenses with the NJ Division of Criminal Justice. The portal also permits respondents to respond to civil rights complaints and file documents through the online system.

The DCR hopes that this portal will help to address the increase in bias and hate crimes occurring in New Jersey. The 2019 Bias Incident Report (Bias Incident Report) released in October 2020 indicated a significant increase in reported bias incidents in 2019. There were 994 bias incidents reported in New Jersey in 2019, a 75% increase from 2018 and the highest annual total since New Jersey began reporting bias incident data over 25 years ago. The Bias Incident Report indicated that 51% of the incidents were based on race, ethnicity, or ancestry, while 34% were based on gender (including sex, gender identity, gender expression, and transgender status) and 14% were based on sexual orientation, with only 1% based on physical or mental disability.

As per the Bias Incident Report, from among the motivations reported for the bias incidents, anti-Black racism accounted for 30% of all reported motivations, while anti-Semitism against Jewish people accounted for 28% of all reported motivations in 2019. Anti-Hispanic or Latinx bias was the most common reported motivation for reported bias incidents motivated by ethnicity. Anti-gay bias was the most frequently reported motivation for reported bias incidents motivated specifically by sexual orientation.

It is important to note that the Bias Incident Report and the opening of the new portal comes at a critical time. There has been significant social change in recent times, including the Black Lives Matter and #Metoo movements. The DCR’s investigations into employment-based complaints may consider whether an employer failed to stop someone else from engaging in harassment or discrimination as well as whether the employer itself discriminated against an individual.

Workplace education on implicit/unconscious bias and training on harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are key preventative measures. Such efforts are more important than ever given the pending legislation in NJ that will expand training requirements. If interested, please reach out to the Firm for more information.

This summary is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This information should not be reused without permission.