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Filing a Discrimination Complaint in New Jersey

How do you file a complaint against an employer who has discriminated against you?

New Jersey employees have a number of options when making a charge of discrmination against their employers.  It is important to note that the decisions you make early on can have significant effects on the outcome of your case. 

Should you pursue an administrative process or go straight to court? 

The first decision faced by an employment discrimination plaintiff is where to lodge your complaint. 

Should you lodge your complaint with a federal agency or state agency? 

If you are suing under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (N.J.S.A. § 10:5-1 et seq.), then you can choose to file a charge of discrimination with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights or in New Jersey the Superior Court of New Jersey.  But you cannot do both.  This is known as an “election of remedies.”

If you are suing under a federal statute, you must first file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC’s website is here.  After 180 days have elapsed, you have the option of requesting a “right to sue” letter that will allow you to file suit in court or continuing with the administrative process.

Should you file your case in federal court or state court? 

Some cases can only be filed in federal court, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and some can only be filed in state court, the Superior Court of New Jersey.  Others can be filed in either forum.  An examination of all the facts and circumstances of a particular case must be made in order to choose the appropriate forum.

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