TRENTON – The Division on Civil Rights will host a public forum at Essex County College on Saturday to promote awareness among veterans and active military personnel of their rights under the state’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), as well as their recourse if they believe those rights have been violated, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today.
The forum, a collaborative effort with American Legion Guyton Callahan Post 152, will take place Saturday from 9:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. The event is part of a continuing Division on Civil Rights initiative designed to help those who have served in the military and — upon returning to civilian life – encountered discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere.
“This is one way of giving back to those who have served their country,” said Chiesa. “Many people recognize that certain kinds of discrimination – discrimination based on gender, race or religion, for example, is against the law. Through forums like this one, we intend to spread the word that discrimination against someone because he or she has answered the call to military duty can also be a violation.”
Working in conjunction with the American Legion of New Jersey, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other stakeholders, the Division on Civil Rights held an earlier public forum for military veterans at the American Legion Post in Lawrenceville, Mercer County. Additional public forums at other locations, as well as other events and activities focused on veterans’ rights, will be held throughout 2012.
Chiesa explained that one concern underlying the outreach effort is that discrimination against military personnel may go unreported due to a lack of awareness of the protections afforded by the law. For example, he noted, some military members may not realize that an employee cannot be fired, demoted or removed from promotional consideration simply because he or she is absent from work fulfilling a service obligation.
In developing the veterans’ outreach program, the Division on Civil Rights worked closely with Bob Looby, American Legion Past State Commander, and Corrado Gigante, Director of EEOC’s Newark Regional Office, as well as representatives from the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Essex County College is located at 303 University Avenue in Newark. Saturday’s seminar will be held in the college’s main building, in the multi-purpose room located on the 4th floor.
Chiesa thanked Division on Civil Rights Director Craig Sashihara and Assistant Director Phillip Freeman, who heads the Division’s Bureau of Prevention, Outreach and Public Education, for their work on the veterans’ initiative.
Anyone seeking to file a formal discrimination complaint can do so by visiting one of the Division’s four regional offices located in Atlantic City, Camden, Trenton and Newark. For additional information, visit the Division’s Web site at: www.NJCivilRights.org .
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