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TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Jeff Van Drew providing military members and veterans with enhanced protections from discrimination were signed into law.

“The individuals who defend our freedom at home or abroad are the foundation of our democracy and they should be protected to the fullest extent possible,” said Senator Cruz Perez. “The men and women who have stood up on behalf of this country as a member of the US Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard, represent the very best we have. They should never face harassment, abuse, or discrimination in any arena and these laws will ensure they have the protections they need.”

“By amending this law, we are closing loopholes to ensure that members of our military have the proper protections they need from discrimination when they enter the workforce,” said Senator Van Drew, a sponsor of S-713. “They have fought for our freedoms and it is right that we as lawmakers fight for them. It is so important we update these laws and make sure our military members are fully protected.”

The first law (S-713) provides employment protection for military personnel. 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 law adds members of the United States Armed Forces and the Reserves to those protected under the statute.

The law 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 law would also add a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 for a violation of the statute.

The second law (S-714) would provide that anyone who excludes members of the United States Armed Forces or reservists because of the uniform, from the equal enjoyment of any public accommodation such as places of amusement, resorts, or other public facilities, would be guilty of a fourth degree crime.

Any fines collected under S-714 would be deposited in the “NJ National Guard State Family Readiness Council Fund,” which is a program that provides financial assistance to deployed military personnel and their families.

Both laws will take effect immediately.