TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez protecting military members from unfair treatment and job loss cleared the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.
“This is about protecting the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “These individuals deserve to be protected from discrimination in all forms under the law. In addition, those who are serving or who want to serve in the military should be free from harassment or interference by an employer. These bills will help ensure that service members are able to do their jobs, while balancing their military life, and that military members or veterans can pursue justice if they face discrimination in employment, housing or in other areas.”
The first bill (S-713) provides US Armed Forces and Reserves members with protection against interference with their employment, trade or business. Currently, any person who knowingly deprives, prevents or obstructs a member of the organized militia in his employment because he is a member of the organized militia, or is performing or about to perform his duty or dissuades a person from enlistment by threatening or harming his employment, is guilty of a misdemeanor. This bill adds members of the United States Armed Forces and the Reserves to those protected under the statute. Under the bill, this act will provide employment protection for military personnel.
Under current law, any person who willfully deprives, prevents or obstructs a member of the organized militia in employment because a person is a member of the organized militia, or is about to perform his duty or dissuades a person from enlistment by threatening or harming his employment, is guilty of a “misdemeanor.” The bill would replace the term “misdemeanor” with the current equivalent designation of a crime of the fourth degree. Currently, a fourth degree crime can result in a fine limit of $10,000 and/or up to 18 months in prison. The bill would also add a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 for a violation of the statute.
The second bill (S-726) would extend full protection under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to persons having liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, which are any reservists or military members who can be immediately called to active duty. Under current law, people who are listed as a protected class in some provisions of the LAD, but not in others. This bill would make it clear that these persons are entitled to the same protection under the LAD as other protected classes, including protection against discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, land use, lending, and association membership.
S-726 provides that all people shall have the opportunity to obtain employment, and to obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any place of public accommodation, publicly assisted housing accommodation, and other real property without discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, familial status and disability. This bill will include liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States.
These two bills are part of a package of bills aimed to provide protection to military members. In May, S-714 cleared the committee 4-0; S-714 would provide military members with protection against interference with enjoyment of any accommodation, facility, or other public place cleared the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
S-713 cleared the committee 4-0; S-726 cleared by a vote of 4-0. All three would next go to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.