The New Jersey Appellate Division has recently held that the New Jersey Law against Discrimination (LAD) may apply to employees who live and work outside of New Jersey. In Trevejo v Legal Cost Control, the employer employed a remote employee who lived in Massachusetts and worked out of her home in that state. The Massachusetts employee had only visited the employer’s office in New Jersey on a few occasions.  Following her termination, she filed an age discrimination claim under the LAD.  In reversing the trial court which had held that the LAD did not apply in this context, the Appellate Division held that the LAD could still govern because the LAD applies to “persons” instead of merely New Jersey “inhabitants,” and limiting it to just New Jersey residents would defeat the law’s  “strong interest in a discrimination-free workplace.” Ultimately, the court found that further discovery was warranted on this issue to assess factors such as where the employee’s co-workers worked, whether other employees also worked from home, and the location of the company’s computer servers and Internet service provider.  The court stated that such factors may show that the employee had a “virtual” presence in New Jersey such that the LAD applied.

This ruling shows yet again that the New Jersey courts take a very broad view of the LAD and so much so that they will apply it to employees who do not even work in the state. Consequently, employers should be cognizant that even the slightest contact any of their out of state employees may have with New Jersey could trigger the protections of the LAD.  This ruling is also limited to the LAD and its specific statutory language, and did not address whether out of state employees may also be covered by other laws, such as New Jersey’s recently enacted Equal Pay Act.  That remains an open issue for the New Jersey courts to decide.

For more information, or if you have any questions regarding this decision, you may contact Douglas Diaz, Esquire at ddiaz@archerlaw.com or one of Archer’s other experienced Labor and Employment Law attorneys at in Haddonfield, N.J. at 856-795-2121; Princeton, N.J. at 609-580-3700; Hackensack, N.J. at 201-342-6000; Philadelphia, Pa. at 215-963-3300, or Wilmington, Del. at 302-777-4350.