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Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The birthday of the Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. is observed as a federal and state holiday in New Jersey. Federal and state offices are closed. This includes the courts. The holiday is observed each year on the third Monday of January.
While he was not an attorney, Dr. King certainly had an effect on the laws of this country. The civil rights movement that he led was instrumental in changing existing laws. These changes included the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The other seminal law that Doctor King influenced was, of course, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Interestingly, the New Jersey civil rights law, known as the Law Against Discrimination, was first enacted in 1945. This was well before the civil rights movement that Doctor King led. New Jersey was obviously ahead of the curve when it came to civil rights. Indeed, the New Jersey law was the nation’s first state-wide civil rights enforcement statute.
New Jersey was not always so pro-civil rights, however. For example, New Jersey voters voted against Abraham Lincoln both times that he ran for president. And slavery did not fully end in New Jersey until 1865, the last year of the Civil War. At that time, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery nationwide.
Fortunately, New Jersey has adopted a more enlightened outlook since the Civil War. Our state has been at the forefront of protecting civil rights for all citizens. For example, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination allows discrimination victims to sue employers who violate the law’s provisions. Illegal workplace discrimination is not tolerated.
If you are ever the victim of illegal discrimination at work, you should contact an attorney immediately. There are deadlines to take action.