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New Jersey Employers Can’t Kick Their Oldest Employees Out

For many years, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination allowed private employers to refuse to hire or promote any person over 70 years of age. For those 70+ employees forced to retire under this provision, the statute limited their recovery of damages to back pay and interest.

This month, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill removing the provision and amending the law in other ways. Employers cannot lawfully refuse to hire or promote someone because they are 70 years of age or older. Older employees making claims of discrimination may now seek punitive damages, litigation costs, and attorneys’ fees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, a federal statute, prohibits employers with at least 20 employees from discriminating against employees over 40 years of age. With New Jersey’s amendments, employers with less than 20 employees are also precluded from discriminating based on age. The new law repealed the mandatory retirement age of 70 for tenured employees at colleges and universities. The state still requires Supreme Court justices and state judges to retire at age 70.

In support of passing the new law, a New Jersey state senator was quoted as saying, “Seventy is the new 50, and older workers are continuing to work” The law takes effect immediately.