New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That Bank’s Preferential Senior Checking Accounts Did Not Violate LAD

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently held that a bank did not violate New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) by offering “senior checking accounts” to individuals age sixty years or older with more favorable terms than those available to individuals under the age of sixty.  See Resua v. BCB Bancorp, Inc., 2016 WL 3189655 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. June 9, 2016).  In the case, the plaintiffs filed a putative class action against the defendant banks, arguing that these preferential checking accounts discriminated against younger people in violation of LAD.  Under LAD, it is an unlawful employment practice “[f]or any person to refuse to buy from, sell to, lease from or to, license, contract with, or trade with, provide goods, services or information to, or otherwise do business with any other person on the basis of . . . age”.  N.J.S.A. § 10:5-2(l).  The trial court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint.  On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal.  It held that, although section (l) of LAD prohibits discrimination based on age, section (i) of the statute, which controls banking institutions involved in the making or purchasing of any loan or extension of credit, omitted age from its list of protected classes.  Therefore, because “the only section in the LAD that deals directly with banking services does not prohibit a consideration of age in determining whether to provide certain favorable considerations to consumers like plaintiffs. . . . we discern no legal impediment to financial institution offering checking accounts with favorable interest rates and no minimum balance requirements to consumers sixty years old and older.”

For a copy of the decision, please contact Michael O’Donnell at modonnell@riker.com.