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Morristown New Jersey Employment Law Blog

What issues might make a contract unenforceable?

Whenever you enter into an agreement, it's important consider whether that agreement is enforceable in court. Otherwise, it's hardly worth the paper it's written on -- or isn't.

The first thing to consider is whether you have a valid contract. The basics of a valid contract include:

  • A meeting of the minds of the contracting parties resulting in an offer and acceptance of that offer
  • A bargained-for exchange of promises, meaning that "consideration" (something of real value) was given by each party
  • Sufficient definition of the terms and conditions for court to enforce them

Use shared, objective criteria when determining promotions

It has been over 50 years since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but some companies are still running into trouble. Employers are finding themselves liable for discrimination when they treat men and women differently in promotion decisions. Employers can limit their liability for discrimination by adopting objective standards that apply equally to each gender.

A couple of lawsuits highlighted recently by the Society for Human Resource Management give concrete examples of this problem. Both occurred at vehicle dealerships in another state and both were taken up by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

With non-competes, narrower drafting may mean more enforceability

If your organization uses non-compete clauses or agreements, you may have assumed that its best to draft them as broadly as possible in order to cover all situations. Unfortunately, many courts are increasingly scrutinizing these agreements and may find them unenforceable if they limit employees' employment prospects too much.

In Florida, for example, the statute authorizing noncompetes states that these agreements must be "reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business interest." Last year, the Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed this reasonableness requirement and encouraged trial courts to actively assess the reasonableness of noncompetes on a case-by-case basis.

What are fair chance hiring and open hiring?

In 2017, employee turnover within the restaurant industry was 73 percent. At the Hot Chicken Takeover chain in Columbus, Ohio, that rate is only 39 percent. The difference could be that Hot Chicken Takeover earns employees' loyalty by giving people with complicated work histories or criminal records a real chance at getting a job. The chain is part of the fair chance hiring movement.

In addition to asking about traditional hiring criteria like work history, Hot Chicken Takeover's fair chance hiring process includes questions meant to gauge the applicant's work readiness and culture fit. Once a new person is hired, Hot Chicken Takeover offers a variety of benefits meant to help people thrive. In addition to the professional development and transit benefits many employers offer, the company provides interest-free cash advances, flexible scheduling, free meals and even counseling.

Labor Department issues new guidance on contractor classification

If your company works with independent contractors, you may be concerned about the recent litigation surrounding the issue. With the "gig economy" a growing factor in the American economy, workers have been asking courts to rule that they are legally employees rather than contractors.

Employees are entitled to many workplace-based benefits and protections such as the minimum wage, the overtime premium, workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, employer-paid payroll taxes and employer-sponsored benefits, among other things.

Could Massachusetts' noncompete reform work in New Jersey?

The state of Massachusetts has just passed a bill that would require companies to provide compensation to former employees if they decide to enforce noncompete agreements. The compensation -- either half the employee's salary or "mutually agreed-upon consideration" -- would be required for up to a year after the employee leaves the company.

This is referred to as "garden leave," after a British colloquialism for being paid to tend to one's garden.

Equal pay and paid sick leave present employer challenges

This past spring was big for followers of progressive political philosophy. The governor signed into law several measures that all New Jersey employers need to heed. This post looks at them both with the goal of encouraging employers to act for the protection of business interests.

The first is the Equal Pay Act. Effective as of the first of July, this amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination aims to reduce wage disparity resulting from employment discrimination. Employers violating the law can be assessed significant fines for every occurrence.

5 tips to improve your boring anti-sexual harassment training

At one time or another, we've all been subjected to a dull, seemingly pointless anti-sexual harassment training. Maybe the moderator simply read every word of the slides aloud. Maybe the information was so obvious that it felt like a waste of everybody's time. Maybe what was obvious was that HR had a compliance goal to meet.

When employee trainings are boring, unenlightening or designed merely to limit liability, the entire process can be worse than ineffective. It can actually be counterproductive. If your anti-sexual harassment trainings have had lackluster results, consider a few tips to make them more useful and engaging:

Does your company have a policy on Airbnb?

With the growth of the "sharing economy," businesses are having to deal with a number of new questions. When taking quick trips on the company dime, should employees hail a taxi or grab a Lyft? When traveling for business, can they book with Airbnb or should they stick with traditional hotels?

You want your employees to be innovative, especially when it comes to saving the company money. Airbnb wants to increase its market share by offering "business-ready" listings and adding a commercial dashboard to its website.

Judge: Bankruptcy won't protect Weinstein Co. from lawsuits

The Weinstein Co., which was co-founded by Harvey Weinstein, has filed for bankruptcy in Wilmington, Delaware. Dozens of women, at the least, may wish to sue the company for its alleged role in concealing sexual misconduct complaints against Harvey Weinstein. Filing for bankruptcy generally halts lawsuits against the bankrupt individual or company, putting them off until the proceedings are complete. In this case, however, the bankruptcy judge has ruled that the company will not be immune from litigation.

A group of women has filed a potential class action against the company in New York. They estimate they may end up representing the interests of as many as 100 women who claim to have been harassed or otherwise violated by Harvey Weinstein. They asked the bankruptcy judge to allow their lawsuit to move forward and to order the release of Harvey Weinstein's employment contract.

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