Jackson Township Agrees to $575K Settlement Over Religious Discrimination Against Orthodox Jewish Residents
In a significant move aimed at curbing religious discrimination, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced a $575,000 settlement with Jackson Township for violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by unfairly targeting Orthodox Jewish residents through zoning and land use policies.
The lawsuit, initially filed in 2021, accused Jackson Township of using zoning laws and enforcement practices to discriminate against its growing Orthodox Jewish population. The settlement, approved by the Superior Court and outlined in a consent order, will require Jackson Township to adopt new non-discriminatory policies and repeal ordinances that adversely affected Orthodox Jewish residents.
The $575,000 settlement package consists of $275,000 in penalties, a $150,000 restitution fund aimed at compensating victims, and an additional $150,000 in suspended penalties that may be imposed if future violations occur.
"No one in New Jersey should face discrimination for their religious beliefs," said Attorney General Platkin.
Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights, added, "We will not tolerate religious discrimination here in New Jersey."
According to the original complaint, Jackson Township was involved in:
- Discriminatory surveillance of Orthodox Jewish homes
- Selective targeting of communal Jewish prayer gatherings
- Discriminatory land use laws that hindered the building of sukkahs and establishment of yeshivas and dormitories
- Enacting ordinances that effectively banned the creation of eruvim, special zones within which observant Orthodox Jews can engage in specific activities during religious holidays and the Sabbath
To ensure compliance with the LAD, Jackson Township will be monitored by DCR for three years. The Township will also have to inform DCR about any changes that might affect religious land use within its jurisdiction.
Jackson Township will establish a multicultural committee composed of residents, aiming to address issues impacting Orthodox Jewish residents and other forms of discriminatory behavior. Officials, including the mayor, will also undergo training on discrimination in land use and zoning.
How to Seek Restitution
Individuals who believe they have been harmed by the Township's previous actions can contact DCR at JacksonRestitutionFund@njcivilrights.gov for possible compensation from the $150,000 restitution fund.
The settlement highlights the continued steps in combatting religious discrimination in New Jersey, aiming for not only financial restitution, but systematic change for a more inclusive future.
This matter was managed by various Deputy Attorneys General and DCR specialists under multiple supervisions, including Assistant Attorneys General Mayur Saxena and David Leit.
Note: DCR is the state agency in charge of eliminating discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. It enforces laws like the LAD, the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act.