TRENTON – A Finding of Probable Cause (FPC) was announced by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal against a fitness center for allegedly posing unlawful questions to a job candidate, including questions about the candidate’s marital status and future plans to have children.
The business is Active Fitness Center in Sewell, said the Attorney General in a press release. The fitness center was hiring a front desk and customer service employee in January 2018 when complainant Jamie M. Dellinger sat for an interview, the release stated.
According to press release, Dellinger was asked few questions about her work experience or qualifications and then multiple questions about her personal life – including whether she was married, single or in a relationship, whether she had children or was expecting to have children soon, and whether she had any other commitments such as family or others who relied on her.
Active Fitness denied the allegations, and told DCR that Dellinger was not hired for the position because of her demeanor during the interview. Dellinger contended her demeanor may have shifted during the interview because of the inappropriate questions, which she said made her feel uncomfortable.
The Division’s investigation did not find that Active Fitness failed to hire Dellinger on the basis of her gender or marital status. However, the Division did find sufficient basis to support the allegation that Active Fitness violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by inquiring about Complainant’s marital status and plans regarding having children.
“New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination is clear: employers have a duty to extend equal opportunity in the recruiting process, the job application process, and the hiring process,” said Attorney General Grewal.
“Employers are out of bounds if they ask about, or assess job candidates on the basis of, their marital status or plans to have children,” Attorney General Grewal said.
According to the release, DCR, as part of their investigation, also spoke with another female job applicant who was interviewed by Active Fitness for the same position sought by Dellinger. The woman told DCR she was asked the same questions regarding her marital/relationship status. The woman, who has children, also told DCR she was asked how she intended to both work and take care of her kids.
"This great decision by the Division of Civil Rights (DCR) highlights a situation that is all too common in the workplace--women job applicants being subjected to intrusive questions concerning their marital status or plans to have children", said Morristown attorney David Rostan. "This decision also underscores the importance of New Jersey's Family Leave Act. The law has recently been expanded in defining the term "family. As of June 30, the law will cover companies with 30 or more employees and protect workers from job loss for taking care of family members caring for children or other family members".
Employment related questions can be directed to David Rostan, esq at 973-520-8301. The Law Office of David Rostan is located at 122 Washington Street in Morristown, New Jersey.
A Finding of Probable Cause does not resolve a civil rights complaint. Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion the LAD has been violated.