TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights today issued new guidance addressing questions related to COVID-19 and the rights of New Jersey residents under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) and Family Leave Act (FLA).
“COVID-19 is no excuse for racism, xenophobia, or hate,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Discrimination and harassment in violation of New Jersey law remains illegal even if it occurs against the backdrop of a global pandemic. Now, more than ever, we should recognize that we’re all in this together. Words and actions that divide us won’t make any of us safer or stronger.”
“We must not let ignorance or fear around COVID-19 lead to stereotyping and prejudice,” said DCR Director Rachel Wainer Apter. “COVID-19 does not discriminate based on race, national origin, religion, or disability. Yet there have been disturbing reports of discrimination and harassment targeting Asian people and people with actual or perceived disabilities, as well as other racial and religious discrimination arising from COVID-19. Today’s guidance addresses this kind of discrimination and harassment, and also explains when employees may be eligible to take job-protected leave in connection with the virus.”
DCR is also offering guidance on COVID-19-related discrimination in places of public accommodation. The guidance explains that a school, for example, may be liable under the LAD for failing to investigate or take action in the face of reports that a student was being harassed based on race or national origin over COVID-19. Likewise, a public bus driver or bus company, for example, may be required to take reasonable action to stop harassment of one passenger by another.