TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights announced today that the Division has issued a Finding of Probable Cause (FPC) against a Gloucester County 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 at issue, Active Fitness Center in Sewell, was hiring a front desk and customer service employee in January 2018 when complainant Jamie M. Dellinger sat for an interview.
According to her complaint, Dellinger was asked few questions about her work experience or qualifications. Instead, she alleged, her interviewer posed 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.
“The legislature prohibited employers from asking candidates whether they are married or plan to have children because men and women should be judged on their qualifications for the position, not stereotypes regarding gender roles, family life, or who will provide care for children,” said Director Wainer Apter. “Letting gender stereotypes influence how employers conduct interviews or make hiring decisions is bad for business and it is against the law.”
As part of its investigation, DCR 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.
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.