Employers, Don’t Let Your Guard Down: COVID-19–Related Employment Lawsuits Are in Full Swing

We previously reported on COVID-19–related employment lawsuits that we tracked from late March 2020 through early May 2020. Since then, the number of lawsuits has steadily risen as employers have resumed operations after shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders were lifted and students returned to school in virtual or hybrid environments. To track this litigation and to identify trends, we developed an Interactive COVID-19 Litigation Tracker that details where COVID-19–related litigation is taking place by state, the industries affected, and the types of claims asserted against employers and educational institutions.

New Jersey Enacts COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Presumption Bill for Essential Workers

On September 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill (SB) 2380 into law. SB 2380 creates a rebuttable presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 cases contracted by “essential employees” during a public health emergency declared by an executive order of the governor. The law is effective immediately and retroactive to March 9, 2020.

Marijuana Legalization Update for 2020: A Primer on the Latest Medicinal and Recreational Use News

In the past several years, marijuana legalization has become an increasingly difficult issue for employers to navigate. Marijuana legalization raises challenging workplace questions related to drug testing, disability accommodation, workplace safety, hiring, and employment termination, among other issues. Because of the fast-evolving nature of marijuana laws, and the wide variance in laws and protections from state to state, employers have struggled to keep up.

New Jersey Supreme Court Confirms Enforceability of Employment Arbitration Agreements With Class Action Waivers Exempted Under FAA

On May 21, 2018, in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld class action waivers in arbitration agreements, ruling that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) instructs “federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms—including terms providing for individualized proceedings.” On July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of New Jersey handed down a landmark decision of its own upholding the enforceability of employment arbitration agreements with class action waivers under the New Jersey Arbitration Act (NJAA), even if the agreements are exempted from the coverage of the FAA, by virtue of the FAA’s Section 1 “transportation worker exemption.”

New Jersey Issues Executive Order No. 142 on Non-essential Construction Projects and Non-essential Retail Businesses

Two weeks after announcing “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health” plan, New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) No. 142  on May 13, 2020, permitting non-essential construction projects and non-essential retail businesses to reopen effective 6:00 a.m. on May 18, 2020. This is Governor Murphy’s first step in restarting New Jersey’s economy since he issued the stay-at-home mandate in EO No. 107on March 21, 2020.

New Jersey Expands State Family Leave Act and Family Leave Insurance Act to Provide Coverage for COVID-19 Leave

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, on April 14, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 2374 (S2374), which amends the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) and the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance law (NJFLI) to provide job-protected,  paid leave to care for family members quarantined due to COVID-19, and amends the NJFLA to provide for  job-protected  unpaid leave to care for children due to COVID-19 school closures.  The legislation also allows employers to seek certification relating to these expanded categories of leave, allows highly paid employees to take leave if the leave is COVID-19 related, and provides that COVID-19-related leave may be taken on an intermittent basis.

New Jersey Closes all Non-Essential Construction Projects

On April 8, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 122, requiring the closure of all non-essential construction projects beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2020. The executive order does not define “non-essential construction project”; instead, it lists the following “essential construction projects” that may continue to operate.

New Jersey Adds to List of “Essential” Retail Businesses Permitted to Remain Open Pursuant to Executive Order 107

We recently reported that on March 21, 2020, Governor Philip D. Murphy’s Executive Order (EO) No. 107 ordered that all non-essential retail businesses close their physical locations in New Jersey until further notice effective immediately. On March 30, 2020, New Jersey expanded, for the second time, the list of essential retail businesses whose physical locations are permitted to continue operating during their normal business hours (which were originally included in EO 107’s order to close “nonessential” businesses to prevent the further spread of COVID-19).

New Jersey Expands the List of Essential Retail Businesses Permitted to Remain Open in Accordance With Executive Order 107

On March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 107 (EO 107), which ordered all nonessential retail businesses to close their physical locations in New Jersey until further notice. Then on March 24, 2020, the state expanded the list of essential retail businesses whose physical locations are permitted to continue operating during their normal business hours.

New Jersey Governor Issues Stay Home Executive Order Closing Non-Essential Retail Businesses

On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) No. 107, requiring New Jersey residents to stay at home and closing the physical location of any non-essential retail business so long as the order stays in effect. Although their “brick-and-mortar” locations must remain closed, businesses may continue to operate their online and telephone delivery services to the extent they are licensed to do so. The order went into effect on March 21, 2020, at 9:00 p.m.

Keeping Up With New Jersey Employment Law Developments

It was a busy January 2020 in Trenton, with the state enacting several new employment laws, with more apparently on the way. This is in addition to the slew of new laws adopted in 2019 impacting New Jersey employers. Here’s a summary of recent employment law developments in New Jersey just one month into 2020, a look at what may be on the way, and a recap of 2019’s changes.

New Jersey Enacts New Employer Requirements for Mass Terminations or Layoffs

On January 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 3170, which expands New Jersey’s Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act (New Jersey WARN Act) well beyond the requirements of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 19, 2020, and will make New Jersey the first state to guarantee payment of severance to employees affected by mass layoffs.

New Jersey Resumes Efforts to Amend ABC Test for Independent Contractor Status, Passes Slate of Laws Targeting Misclassification

The New Jersey legislature closed out 2019 by trying to push through a bill that would have substantially amended the state’s “ABC test” for determining independent contractor status, and effectively prohibited New Jersey companies from utilizing independent contractor workforces. On January 14, 2020, the state senate introduced S863, which presents many of the same problems for New Jersey businesses that its predecessors did.

New Year, New Minimum Rates: State-by-State Minimum Wage Updates for 2020

In 2020, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The following chart lists the states’ (and certain major localities’) minimum wage increases for 2020—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees. The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per

Second Circuit Stamps Out Approval Requirement for FLSA Claims Settled Via Rule 68 Offers of Judgment

On December 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Yu v. Hasaki Restaurant, Inc., No. 17-3388, that judicial approval is not required to settle Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims via a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a) offer of judgment.

Employers Beware: New Jersey Enacts One of the Toughest “Wage Theft” Laws in the Country

On August 6, 2019, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed the New Jersey Wage Theft Act (WTA) into law. The law has been touted by proponents as the toughest wage theft statute in the country. Notwithstanding its name, the WTA goes far beyond attempting to prevent and punish intentional “wage theft” by significantly expanding the liability even the best-intentioned employers will face for state wage law violations.

Third Circuit Rules That FAAAA Does Not Preempt New Jersey’s ABC Test for Determining Independent Contractor Status

On January 29, 2019, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) does not preempt New Jersey’s ABC test for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee.

Frequently Asked Questions About the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Law, Part III

The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Law (PSLL) goes into effect on October 29, 2018. We have received hundreds of questions in the last few weeks from employers seeking guidance on what they must do to comply with the law in advance of its looming effective date. This is part three in a three-part series answering some of these frequently asked questions.