Eradicating Hate, Bias, and Discrimination 2024

Eradicating Hate, Bias, and Discrimination 2024

Eradicating, Hate, Bias, and Discrimination

Discrimination and hate have no place in New Jersey, and that is why Attorney General Platkin is committed to holding those who violate our strong civil rights law accountable. Through enforcement, outreach, and prevention efforts, our office is taking numerous steps to combat hate, bias, and discrimination.

Promoting Equitable Access to Housing

Tackling housing discrimination. Attorney General Platkin is focused on supporting New Jerseyans, whether they rent or own, and ensuring they are treated fairly in the housing market. In April, DCR announced that DCR and Zillow Group, Inc., an online real estate and rental marketplace company, agreed to prevent New Jersey housing providers from discriminating against prospective tenants seeking to pay rent with federal, state or local rental assistance, and to address discrimination against prospective tenants with criminal histories. The agreement, announced during National Fair Housing Month, includes important measures to combat violations of New Jersey’s Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA).

Pursuing violations of New Jersey’s housing laws. In 2023, Attorney General Platkin and DCR issued nearly 90 Notices of Violation to housing providers across the State for allegedly violating FCHA. The Notices of Violation allege that the housing providers violated FCHA by asking unlawful criminal history-related questions on housing applications or by posting advertisements or maintaining policies prohibiting housing applicants with criminal history from applying for a unit.

Ensuring fairness for renters. In 2023, Attorney General Platkin and DCR issued findings of probable cause in several cases, all of which involved alleged violations of the prohibition against housing discrimination based on the source of lawful income. The allegations in all the cases involved individuals seeking rental housing who were denied the opportunity to rent because they were receiving rental assistance. According to New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), landlords cannot refuse to rent to potential tenants or discourage them from renting because they receive  government rental assistance.
Eradicating, Hate, Bias, and Discrimination

Protecting Individuals from Discrimination

Exposing white supremacy. Attorney General Platkin and DCR released a groundbreaking report, “Exposing White Supremacy in New Jersey,” which analyzed the rise in white supremacist recruitment and violence and the painful and profound impact that white supremacy has on targeted communities, especially on young people. The report called on members of the community to oppose and confront white supremacy, and provided best practices for the community to combat white supremacy and prevent white supremacist radicalization. The report built on the findings of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness’s most recent terrorism threat assessment, which rated the threat presented by white  supremacist violent extremists as “high” for the third year in a row.

Protecting religious freedom. DCR also reached a landmark settlement with Jackson Township which resolved DCR’s allegations that the Township discriminated against Orthodox Jewish residents. The settlement provides for broad equitable relief prohibiting the Township from discriminating against Orthodox Jews, and requires the Township to adopt new policies and procedures to protect religious freedom. DCR’s complaint against the Township, which was filed in 2021, alleged that it adopted discriminatory zoning and land use ordinances and enforcement practices that targeted the Township’s growing Orthodox Jewish population. The $575,000 settlement includes $275,000 in penalties, a $150,000 restitution fund for individuals harmed by the Township’s actions, and an additional $150,000 in suspended penalties that will be assessed if the Township violates the consent order.

Fighting discrimination based on perceived national origin. In August, Attorney General Platkin announced the filing of a DCR complaint alleging that the City of Millville violated LAD by discriminating against Hispanic or Latinx/e litigants based on their actual or perceived national origin. The complaint alleges that, between June and December 2022, the Millville Municipal Court required litigants who were or were perceived to be Spanish speaking to appear at in-person court proceedings instead of permitting them to appear virtually for court sessions. This practice denied those litigants equal access to virtual court proceedings in the City of Millville.
Eradicating, Hate, Bias, and Discrimination

Championing marriage equality for New Jersey residents. Twenty-eight municipalities across the state received Notices of Violation for allegedly violating LAD by publishing marriage license application forms on their websites that exclude certain LGBTQ+ individuals seeking to obtain marriage licenses. The various municipalities posted marriage license application forms on their websites that did not permit nonbinary people to apply for marriage licenses unless they mis-gendered themselves, under oath, as either “m” (male) or “f” (female). That practice is inconsistent with the marriage license application currently published by the New Jersey Department of Health, which has included a third gender option for nonbinary applicants and other people with undesignated or unspecified gender identities since 2019.

Promoting racial justice across the Department. The Racial Justice Initiative, launched in 2021 continued to expand its scope, with the Attorney General’s Racial Justice Speaker Series, which is open to all LPS employees and various community stakeholders. The inaugural event featured Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the “Little Rock Nine,” who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. She shared her story and her work as an advocate for racial, gender, social, and environmental justice. The second event featured Professor D. Wendy Greene from Drexel University, who discussed how the movement to combat hair discrimination is a crucial part of the global effort to achieve racial justice for people of color. The speaker series is part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to promote racial justice across all agencies, divisions, and offices.

Eradicating, Hate, Bias, and Discrimination

Addressing gender-based discrimination. A settlement with Pine Valley Golf Club (Club), located in Camden County, resolved a DCR complaint that alleged the historically male-dominated Club engaged in a pattern of unlawful gender-based discrimination. Under the settlement, the Club agreed to end discriminatory employment practices, end discriminatory housing practices, and educate its employees about the requirements of the LAD. During the course of DCR’s investigation, the Club also lifted its policy restricting Club membership to men only and admitted its first women members. The complaint further alleged that the Club had adopted employment policies that discriminated on the basis of gender and used discriminatory restrictive covenants that prevented women from owning houses on the Club’s land unless they co-owned a house with a man.

Pursuing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. In June, Attorney General Platkin and DCR issued Findings of Probable Cause in three cases alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in violation of LAD. The Findings of Probable Cause include two cases alleging employment discrimination – one on the basis of sexual orientation, and the other on the basis of gender identity or expression. A third case involves alleged gender identity or expression discrimination. In one case, a teacher at a school in Monmouth County was told they could not talk with students about their gender identity.

Confronting Bias Among Young People

Keeping New Jersey schools free from discrimination. Attorney General Platkin and the Department of Education (DOE) issued a joint statement encouraging all New Jersey schools, school boards, and administrators to continue to develop and implement initiatives to counter bias; to continue to display inclusive markers, flags, and symbols in and around their buildings; to continue to ensure students have access to books representing a diversity of experiences and identities; and to continue to implement and comply with the state’s anti-bias curricula requirements regarding race, gender, LGBTQ+, disability, and diversity. In addition, Attorney General Platkin and DOE also released an “Addressing Bias in K-12 Schools” guide as part of their ongoing partnership. The guide provides schools in New Jersey with a comprehensive plan to tackle bias in schools and also offers additional resources that schools and members of the school community can use to effectively respond to bias incidents.

Eradicating, Hate, Bias, and Discrimination

Tackling bias on campus. Efforts to reach our state’s youngest residents also included the issuance of a new resource guide, titled “Addressing Bias on Campus,” which was a joint project by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and DCR. The resource guide comes from recommendations of the New Jersey Youth Bias Task Force, and includes bias response materials applicable to the whole campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. The “Addressing Bias on Campus” resource guide provides New Jersey campus stakeholders with the tools to prevent and respond to bias incidents effectively. The guide also highlights key state resources and actions dedicated to achieving the goal of safer campuses. Additionally, early in 2023, Attorney General Platkin launched an outreach and awareness campaign on college and university campuses to discuss bias and hate and the resources available to campus communities to combat bias. Events were held at Rowan University and Rutgers University-New Brunswick with hundreds of faculty, staff and students attending the sessions.

Addressing bias in the wake of global events. In the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Attorney General Platkin issued a statement about the marked increase in bias incidents targeting Jewish and Muslim community members in K-12 schools and on college and university campuses. Attorney General Platkin’s message was clear: it is critical that our educational institutions respond immediately—and in a manner consistent with their legal obligations—when bias incidents occur. LAD protects all students, including Jewish, Israeli, Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian students, from discrimination or harassment based on actual or perceived race, national origin, religion, or other protected characteristics. Where peer-to-peer, bias-based harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or hostile school environment, the school must take immediate action to address the harassment.

Combating LGBTQ+ discrimination in schools. Attorney General Platkin and DCR successfully secured injunctions against discriminatory policies in various New Jersey school districts, namely Hanover Township, Middletown Township, Marlboro Township, and Manalapan-Englishtown. These policies mandate that school staff disclose the gender identity and sexual orientation of LGBTQ+ students to their parents, a practice deemed a violation of LAD. The Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting the rights of all New Jerseyans including our youngest residents.
Eradicating, Hate, Bias, and Discrimination