TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals under New Jersey’s “Law Against Discrimination,” was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 31-5.
“In today’s society, intolerance and cruelty towards a people simply because they don’t fit the homogenized definition of ‘normal,’ have no place, and cannot be tacitly accepted by omission in our laws,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “We cannot turn our backs on the plight of transgender individuals who face hatred, ignorance and discrimination because of their expressed gender identity. We must extend the same protections afforded under the current ‘Law Against Discrimination’ to transgender people that we afford based on a racial, ethnic, gender or religious basis.”
The bill, S-362, would extend protection, through New Jersey’s “Law Against Discrimination” (LAD), to individuals on the basis of gender identity or expression. Under the LAD, transgender individuals would be protected from employment discrimination, as well as discriminatory practices in the areas of public accommodations, contracts, housing, lending and union membership. Violation of the civil rights protections outlined in the LAD could necessitate pre-trial investigation and settlement by the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, or a civil court hearing, with penalties ranging from a cease-and-desist order for unlawful actions to compensation for the person whose rights were violated, and fines of up to $10,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense, and $50,000 for a third and subsequent offenses.
“This bill addresses a fundamental question of justice for transgender individuals living in New Jersey,” said Senator Karcher. “Through this legislation, we are guaranteeing that civil rights cannot be denied on the basis of gender identity. This is a significant step forward for those who’ve felt the sting of discrimination, and for those seeking the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Garden State.”
The bill is pending consideration in the General Assembly, and, if approved, will then go on to the Governor to be signed into law.