Under both New Jersey and federal law, discrimination based on a person’s protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, age, or disability is illegal. If a person is treated differently or unfairly because of his or her protected characteristics, discrimination has taken place, and legal remedies may be available to the victim.
Although discrimination cases usually involve historically disadvantaged or minority groups, discrimination is also illegal in instances where the victim is not a member of a historically disenfranchised or disadvantaged group. These situations, which are sometimes referred to as “reverse discrimination” cases, give rise to the same legal rights and remedies as more traditional discrimination cases, although a plaintiff may be subjected to a heightened pleading standard.
Courts have recognized that reverse discrimination is a legitimate legal claim. In early 2014, a United States District Court ruled that a reverse discrimination claim could proceed, despite the fact that the plaintiff was a Caucasian male. In the case of McQuillan v. Petco, Frank McQuillan claimed that he had been subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment. McQuillan claimed that, as the only Caucasian worker at one of Petco’s locations, the exclusive use of Spanish-language signs in the workplace and harassing comments from his Hispanic coworkers led to a hostile work environment. As a result, he sued his employer. Although Petco attempted to have the case thrown out, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey determined that McQuillan had a valid claim, and his case could proceed.
If your employer has discriminated against you in the workplace due to your protected characteristics, your rights may have been violated. It does not matter whether you are white or black, male or female, or a member of a historically disadvantaged group: discrimination is illegal. Regardless of your specific situation, an experienced employment attorney can help you seek justice and reclaim your rights if they have been violated.