New Jersey Veterans May Soon Be Entitled to Preferential Hiring in Non-Civil Service Jurisdictions

On December 3, 2015, Senate Bill 2145 was approved, 62-0, by the New Jersey Assembly. (The bill had already been passed by the New Jersey Senate in May.) If signed into law, the bill would authorize counties and municipalities whose hiring preferences are not subject to civil service hiring rules to give veterans preferential treatment

Expanded Protections Proposed for Breastfeeding Employees in New Jersey

On November 16, 2015, a bill was introduced to extend the protections of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to breastfeeding mothers. If enacted, New Jersey Assembly Bill 4696 would require New Jersey employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for breastfeeding mothers, including reasonable break time each day and a suitable room or other location with privacy (other than a toilet stall), in close proximity to the work area, for the employee to express breast milk.

Bill Proposed to Restrict New Jersey Employers’ Ability to Obtain Salary and Benefits Information from Prior Employers

On November 16, 2015, a bill was introduced that would prohibit employers from seeking, obtaining, or requiring current or prospective employees to provide information about their compensation and benefits history at their prior employer. 

New Jersey Annual Notice Reminders With Deadlines Fast Approaching

New Jersey employers should be aware of two impending annual notice requirements. First, employers must distribute to each employee working in New Jersey a written copy of the Gender Equity Notice on or before December 31 each year and must obtain a signed acknowledgement from each employee in writing or by means of electronic verification.

Elizabeth Becomes the Tenth New Jersey City to Require Paid Sick Leave

On November 3, 2015, voters in the City of Elizabeth approved a paid sick leave ordinance, making it the tenth municipality in the State of New Jersey to require paid sick leave. The ordinance, which goes into effect on March 2, 2016 (120 days after voter approval) is nearly identical to sick leave ordinances already passed in the cities of Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Montclair, Trenton, and Bloomfield. Each of these ordinances closely tracks, but is not identical to Newark’s paid sick leave ordinance, while Jersey City’s sick leave ordinance does not track Newark’s ordinance.

Jersey City Expands Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to Small Businesses, Increases Penalties for Noncompliance

On October 30, 2015, the Jersey City mayor approved a change to the city’s existing paid sick leave law (Ordinance 15.145), purportedly to bring the sick leave ordinance more in line with those of other New Jersey cities that have since passed their own paid sick leave ordinances. One major change is that the law will require employers with fewer than 10 employees to allow workers to accrue up to 24 hours of paid sick time and up to 16 hours of additional unpaid sick time annually—except for healthcare workers, food service workers, and child care workers who care for small children, all of whom are entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Prior to the change, such small businesses were only required to provide employees with the ability to accrue up to 40 hours of unpaid time off.

New Jersey Advances Bill to Ban Most Employee Credit Checks

On December 14, 2015, the New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee released another bill—A2298—seeking to prohibit most credit checks on employees. Essentially the same as prior bills that failed in the New Jersey legislature (including those we reported on in 2010 and in 2012), A2298 would prohibit employers from obtaining a credit report, or requiring an employee or prospective employee to consent to provide a credit report unless (a) the employer was required by law to obtain one, or (b) the employer reasonably believed that the employee had engaged in a specific activity that was financial in nature and constituted a violation of law.

Legal Protections and Remedies for New Jersey Interns Are on the Horizon

On January 15, 2015, the New Jersey Intern Protection Act was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee and has been sent to the full Assembly for a vote. If adopted, this bill (S539, A3529) would provide interns with the same legal protections from discrimination and retaliation that employees enjoy under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, and the Worker Freedom From Employer Intimidation Act.

Six-Year Statute of Limitations Applies to Claims Under the New Jersey Wage Payment Law, New Jersey District Court Holds

A New Jersey federal court recently held that a six-year, not a two-year, statute of limitations applies to claims under the New Jersey Wage Payment Law, N.J.S.A. 34:11-4.1, et seq., that section of the New Jersey wage and hour law that regulates administrative responsibilities for New Jersey employers, including time and mode of payment, paydays, payment by direct deposit, lawful deductions, and wage and hour records.

Mailing FMLA Notice of Rights to Absent Employee May Be Insufficient to Prove Receipt by Employee, Third Circuit Holds

Many employers send Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork to absent employees via the mail—regular, first class mail—because it is a reasonable, cost-effective way to get the notice to those employees at home. Employers should reconsider this practice following the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Lupyan v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., 2014 WL 3824309 (3d Cir. August 5, 2014).

New Jersey Governor Christie Signs Ban the Box Law

On August 11, 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law “The Opportunity to Compete Act”—also referred to as the “ban the box” law—adding New Jersey to the growing list of states where employers are prohibited from asking criminal conviction questions on initial employment applications. This law is much more limited than prior similar bills introduced in New Jersey and, while restricting employers’ ability to inquire about criminal history information, does not impose the more onerous requirements found in other states’ laws.

Third Circuit Articulates Theories of Successor Liability Under FLSA

In Thompson v. Real Estate Mortgage Network, No. 12-3228 (3d. Cir. Apr. 3, 2014), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently found a successor employer potentially responsible for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations of its predecessor employer, adopting the broader and more employee-friendly federal common law standard for determining FLSA successor liability, rather than the standard under New Jersey state law.

CEPA Protection for “Watchdog” Employees? New Jersey Supreme Court to Decide

On March 14, 2014, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted certification in Lippman v. Ethicon, Inc., 432 N.J. Super. 378 (App. Div. 2013), agreeing to review whether “watchdog” employees, i.e., employees responsible for monitoring and reporting employer compliance with relevant laws and regulations, are protected whistleblowers under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) by virtue

County Employee Injured While Walking From Parking Facility to Work Ineligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits, New Jersey Supreme Court Holds

A Morris County employee sought workers’ compensation benefits for an injury sustained on a public street while walking a few blocks from a privately-owned employer-paid parking lot to her office.  Hersh v. County of Morris, 217 N.J. 236 (2014). The New Jersey Supreme Court held that the employee’s injuries were not compensable under the state

New Law Punishes New Jersey Employers That Fail to Timely or Adequately Respond to Unemployment Agency Requests for Information

Traditionally, New Jersey employers have been free to challenge erroneous unemployment benefit charges even if the error was a result of the employer’s untimely or inaccurate response to the Department of Labor’s request for information about the employee in question.

Jersey City, New Jersey Enacts Sick Leave Ordinance; Is Newark Next?

On October 21, 2013, Jersey City enacted an ordinance (passed by its City Council on September 25) mandating that all Jersey City businesses provide their employees sick leave—either paid or unpaid (depending upon the employer’s size). This ordinance (No. 13097) will take effect on January 24, 2014, or upon the expiration of current collective bargaining agreements for employees represented by a union.

New Jersey Bill Seeks to Expand Protections for Pregnant Employees

On November 18, 2013, a bill (S2995) seeking to expand employment protections for pregnant women passed in the Senate 38-0. Specifically, the bill would (1) amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to add pregnancy (including childbirth recovery) to the list of protected classifications, (2) prohibit less favorable treatment of women based upon pregnancy, and (3) require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s pregnancy-related needs when requested by the employee upon advice of her doctor.

Plaintiff Entitled to Employer’s Customers’ Addresses, District of New Jersey Holds

In Griff v. GalaxE Solutions, Inc., 2013 WL 2242656 (D.N.J. May 21, 2013), the New Jersey District Court rejected an employer’s attempt to withhold disclosure to the plaintiff of the business addresses of several of its customer contacts. The plaintiff had alleged wrongful termination, and the employer justified its actions on the basis of customer complaints about the plaintiff.

New Jersey Legislature Reintroduces Bill to Provide Unpaid On-the-Job Training to the Unemployed

In December 2012, the Assembly re-introduced the “Back to Work NJ Program” (A3580), which is designed to provide unpaid workplace training (without jeopardizing unemployment benefits) to certain eligible unemployment beneficiaries for a maximum of 24 hours per week for up to six weeks. The bill also provides eligible participants with up to $50 per week to assist with training-related costs.

New Jersey Domestic Violence Leave Bills Amended

In December 2012, bills known as the “NJ SAFE Act” (S2177 and A2919) were amended by the House and Senate. Slightly revised from the versions discussed in prior issues of the New Jersey eAuthority (December 2012 and October 2012), the amended bills add that an employee may elect, or an employer may require an employee, to use any of the employee’s accrued paid vacation leave, personal time, or medical or sick leave during any part of the 20-day period of unpaid leave provided by the bill.

Employer Off The Hook for Co-Worker Harassment Claims Thanks to Its Anti-Harassment Policies, New Jersey Appellate Division Holds

In Mann v. Staples, Inc., 2012 WL 3101310 (App. Div. August 1, 2012), a case argued by an attorney in Ogletree Deakins’ New York office, the New Jersey Appellate Division dismissed a female employee’s NJLAD discrimination claims against her employer notwithstanding that her co-worker allegedly subjected her to several bouts of unwelcome sexual harassment over

Third Circuit Clarifies Standard for Final Certification of FLSA Collective Actions

In Zavala v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2012 WL 3217522 (3d Cir. August 9, 2012), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the standard for final certification of a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), affirming the district court’s decision to deny final certification of a class of janitors that alleged that Wal-Mart failed to pay overtime, and instead engaged in an unlawful enterprise of transporting and harboring illegal immigrants and imprisoning them in stores, in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

New Jersey Supreme Court Severely Limits the Laches Defense for Claims Brought Within the Statute of Limitations

“Laches” is a fairness defense invoked to defend a claim because it was brought following a prejudicial, unexplainable, and inexcusable delay in time, even though brought within the applicable statute of limitations. In Millman v. Polymer Packing, Inc., 2012 N.J. LEXIS 677 (N.J. June 20, 2012), the New Jersey Supreme Court also concluded that the laches defense is unavailable (except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances) to challenge an action at law that was brought within the statute of limitations.

Third Circuit Establishes New Test for Joint Employer Liability Under FLSA

In In Re: Enterprise Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Employment Practices Litigation, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 13229 (3d. Cir. June 28, 2012), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals announced a new test for determining whether a joint employer relationship exists under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Now deemed the “Enterprise test,” courts first must consider: (1) the alleged employer’s authority to hire and fire the relevant employees;

Union President Had Expectation of Privacy in Private Facebook Posting, New Jersey District Court Holds

In Ehling v. Monmouth Ocean Hosp. Serv. Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74558 (D.N.J. May 30, 2012), a supervisor convinced an employee to access the private Facebook account of the plaintiff (a co-worker and the union president), so that the supervisor could view and print its contents. The supervisor then mailed copies of several entries to various state agencies, claiming that the posts (which criticized paramedics’ response to a shooting at the Holocaust Museum) showed a disregard for patient safety.

Despite Willful OSHA Violation, New Jersey Supreme Court Reaffirms Exclusivity of Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Refuses to Apply Intentional Injury Exception

In Van Dunk v. Reckson Assoc. Realty Corp., 2012 N.J. LEXIS 678 (N.J. June 26, 2012), the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether an employee’s personal injury suit against his employer following a trench collapse, for which the employer was fined by OSHA for a willful violation, could be maintained despite the exclusivity provisions of

New Jersey Adopts “Employment First” Initiative

On April 19, 2012, Governor Chris Christie announced that New Jersey will become the 14th state to adopt the “Employment First” initiative. The Employment First initiative will require the state government to eliminate any barriers or practices that might prevent persons with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities from being employed and will increase the employment opportunities available to persons with disabilities.