Discrimination In Contracts
It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion or creed, sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, disability, perceived disability, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, military status, or based upon cellular or blood trait in the course of any contractual relationship. We call these cases “Subsection l” cases because of the particular section of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which speaks on these issues.
While the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, one of the most comprehensive civil rights statutes in the country, certainly covers true employer-employee relationships, it also reaches into certain public accommodations such as customer relationships to their stores and students to schools. The law also pertains to contractual relationships. It is illegal to refuse to contract with, or to base one’s behavior during the pendency of the contract upon, one of the prohibited classifications above. It’s even illegal to force someone to contend with harassment (hostile, intimidating or abusive conduct) predicated upon one of those protected statuses just for the right of entering into or obtaining one’s rights in a contract.
Just a few years ago, the New Jersey courts decided that a company that contracted with another company to buy a product, and its president, violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibition against discrimination in the course of a contract. The violation was interesting. The male owner of the company that was purchasing the products from the company whose CEO was female had implied to the female CEO that he would not continue the business relationship – in other words, that he would not contract with her any longer – unless she had sex with him. This is a form of “quid pro quo” sexual harassment that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits in any working relationship, but the courts also found that this type of sexual harassment was a form of sexual discrimination illegal in a contractual relationship and allowed the plaintiff to recover against the sexual harasser.
While you will often find that you are protected as a worker from sexual harassment, sometimes and especially more and more lately in our evolving economy, employers try to play games with employment status. They argue that you’re not really a worker, but rather a contractor. They do this in order to avoid paying you certain benefits and perhaps to avoid paying you overtime, or paying you fairly. They sometimes also use this defense when you accuse them of sexual harassment. However, don’t worry. We know how to use the rarely invoked provision of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to assist you.
It doesn’t matter how you’re performing services for money, or whether you’re truly an employee or a contractor, because if you’re being sexually harassed, we can help you.
The Mount Laurel employment rights attorneys of Costello & Mains, LLC, know how to obtain compensatory and punitive damages, equitable remedies, back pay and front pay, and to protect your rights when you are being sexually harassed as an independent contractor.
Of course, other types of harassment regarding discrimination, such as race, national origin, sexual orientation and disability, are also prohibited in contract.