WARNing—Burdensome New Jersey WARN Act Amendments May Soon Become Effective

There is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for New Jersey employers, as the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to decline and Governor Philip Murphy continues to ease restrictions on businesses. But this good news comes with a dose of serious bad news for New Jersey employers too. The state previously adopted amendments to the New Jersey Act (officially known as the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act), which require employers to provide 90 days’ notice before the first employee is discharged as part of a mass layoff, termination of operations, or transfer of operations.

New Brunswick New Jersey’s Paid Sick & Safe Leave Law Goes Into Effect

On December 17, 2015, the City of New Brunswick passed its own paid sick leave ordinance, making it the eleventh municipality in the State of New Jersey to require paid sick leave. The ordinance becomes effective on January 6, 2016, but employees must wait until May 5, 2016 (or 120 days after they started work, if hired after January 6) to start using their accrued paid leave.

New Jersey Appellate Court Rules Arbitration Agreement in Employee Handbook Unenforceable

In C.M. v. Maiden Re Insurance Services, LLC, No. L-3622-13 (App. Div. Sept. 18, 2015), the New Jersey Appellate Division held that an employee was not compelled to arbitrate her employment discrimination claims, notwithstanding her confirmed receipt of a handbook containing an arbitration agreement. Electronic confirmation that the employee received the handbook was not enough to constitute a knowing waiver of her constitutional rights to have her claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) decided by a jury.

Third Circuit Finds Motor Carrier Exemption to Overtime Inapplicable to Truck Driver Under the “Small Vehicle Exception”

On March 11, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that the motor carrier exemption to the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) did not apply to a truck driver who operated vehicles lighter than 10,000 pounds, even though she spent more than half her time operating vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more.

Third Circuit Holds Option to Convert Terminated Employees into Independent Contractors Sufficient Consideration to Support Release

In connection with a wholesale reclassification of certain sales agents from employees to independent contractors, Allstate Insurance Company terminated the employees and offered them the opportunity to work as independent contractors in exchange for the execution of a release of all claims arising prior to the conversion. On February 13, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that Allstate’s offer to permit terminated employees to convert to independent contractors was sufficient consideration to support the employees’ corollary release of discrimination claims.

New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against Former Employee Who Shared His Former Employer’s Documents With His Subsequent Employer

The recent decision in Spencer Savings Bank SLA v. McGrover, 2015 WL 966151 (App. Div. Jan. 5, 2015) recognizes that merely because a former employee takes company records to a competitor is not sufficient to state a claim. In this case, the Appellate Division found that an employee who shared his former employer’s documents with his current employer was not liable for (1) breach of his confidentiality agreement;

New Jersey Appellate Division Reaffirms That Effective Anti-Discrimination Policies Require Employee Training

In Smith v. Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling, 2015 WL 853040 (App. Div. March 2, 2015), the New Jersey Appellate Division emphasized that an employer that seeks to rely on the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense must conduct workplace discrimination and harassment training, in addition to maintaining an anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

Several More New Jersey Cities Pass Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Following Newark and Jersey City’s lead, the cities of Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, and Irvington recently passed their own paid sick leave ordinances that will provide the majority of private employees working in those cities with paid sick leave. Additionally, on Election Day voters in Montclair and Trenton approved similar measures to bring paid sick leave to their cities.

New Jersey Division on Civil Rights Issues Amended Regulations on Employment Advertising

On June 23, 2014, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) issued amended regulations concerning employment advertisements. First, the prohibition on employment advertisements containing a preference for—or discrimination based on—certain protected characteristics (e.g., race, national origin, age, etc.), was updated to add two missing protected categories under New Jersey law: civil union status and gender identity or expression.

New Jersey Department of Labor Considering Amending Unemployment Benefits Regulations

The New Jersey Department of Labor is considering a series of amendments to the unemployment benefits regulations to bring the regulations in line with P.L. 2010, c. 37, a law that significantly amended the standards for unemployment compensation, as well as interim case law interpreting that law. For more information about P.L. 2012, c. 37, see our discussion in the July 2010 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.

New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That the NJLAD Prohibits Discrimination Against Employees in the Process of Being Divorced

In Smith v. Millville Rescue Squad, 2014 WL 2894924 (App. Div. June 27, 2014), the Appellate Division held that the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s (NJLAD) prohibition against discrimination based on “marital status” encompasses discrimination against individuals who are in the process of being divorced. The Appellate Court’s decision thereby broadens the NJLAD’s scope of “marital status.”

Newark, New Jersey Sick Leave Poster Now Available— Employers Must Act by June 21

On June 21, 2014, the Newark, New Jersey Sick Leave Ordinance (which we previously discussed in the March 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority) will become effective. Beyond the primary requirements of the ordinance (i.e., 24 to 40 hours of paid sick leave to most Newark employees, described in greater detail here), the ordinance also contains notice and posting obligations:

New Jersey Resolution Seeks to Give Public Employees the Right to Collective Bargaining

On March 24, 2014, a resolution (SCR96) was introduced in the Senate that would amend the New Jersey Constitution to give public employees the right to collective bargaining. The state constitution now gives public employees the right to form a union and submit grievances and proposals, but does not make collective bargaining a stated right. The amendment would have the effect of requiring collective negotiation with the representatives of the employees.

Threshold for Prevailing Wage Work for New Jersey Municipalities to Increase July 1, 2014

The state prevailing wage threshold for total work done for a municipality or on property or premises owned by a municipality will increase from $14,187 to $15,444 beginning July 1, 2014. If the work is being done for any other public entity (like a board of education or municipal utility authority) the current $2,000 threshold still applies.

Act Would Require Public Contractors to Report Employment Information for All Employees Working on Public Contracts in New Jersey

The act would require public contractors to report to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development the gender, race, job title, occupational category, and total compensation of every employee employed in the state in connection with a public contract. The act would also require public contractors to provide the Commissioner with an update each time there is a significant change in any of the required information that the employer is required to report or other significant change in employment status (e.g., medical leave of 12 weeks or more, hiring, termination, a change in part-time or full-time status, or a change in “employee” or “contractor” status).

New Jersey Bill Seeks to Permit Additional Withholdings and Deductions From Employee Wages

On March 24, 2014, a bill (S1846) was introduced that would permit an employer to withhold a portion of an employee’s wages for purchases authorized by the employee made at an event sponsored by an organized and generally-recognized charity that is affiliated with the employer. The law would only apply to events in which at least 20 percent of the profits are being contributed to an organized and generally-recognized charity.

New Jersey Bill Seeks to Increase Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees

As we previously anticipated in our March 2014 New Jersey eAuthority, the bill (S1595) seeking to increase the state minimum wage for tipped employees was amended by the Assembly (A857) to reflect implementation dates in 2014 and 2015. As now written, the bill would effectively require employers to compensate their employees at an hourly rate

Taking Documents to Support Discrimination Claims Can Be Prosecuted As Theft, Notwithstanding Quinlan, New Jersey Appellate Division Holds

In State v. Saavedra, 2013 WL 6763248 (App. Div. Dec. 24, 2013), a public sector employee learned that he could be indicted for criminal theft for taking his employer’s highly confidential, original documents, even if his actions would have been protected in a civil suit under Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright Corp., No. 204 N.J. 239 (2010).