From the Star Ledger:
In response to an increasingly older workforce and retirement ages, on Oct. 4, 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill expanding the scope of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) by eliminating decades-old provisions that permitted employers to make age-based employment decisions in certain circumstances. This legislation seeks to serve the laudatory goal of protecting older workers against workplace discrimination in the Garden State.
For private-sector employers, this legislation amends the law to extend protections to older workers by eliminating a provision in the law that permitted employers to refuse to hire or promote employees over 70 years of age. It also expands the remedies available to an employee unlawfully forced to retire due to age to include all remedies available under the law, as opposed to just back pay as was the case pre-amendment.
Originally enacted in 1945, the Law Against Discrimination did not originally include age as a protected category, and it was not until 1962 that the law was amended to include age. However, in 1985, the law was amended to expressly clarify that, although employers were barred from terminating or demoting employees on account of their age, employers were nonetheless permitted to “refus[e] to accept for employment or to promote any person over 70 years of age.” Moreover, that same 1985 amendment expressly limited the remedies available to employees forced to retire due to age to back pay only. Although New Jersey continued to both broaden the law and expand the number of groups subject to its protections, for many years, age was relegated to second-class status.