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Morristown New Jersey Employment Law Blog

Employer-friendly changes coming to FMLA?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), its plans to revisit the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations have two goals in mind. The first is to "better protect and suit the needs of workers," the DOL says. The second goal is to "reduce administrative and compliance burdens on employers."

The federal agency will issue a Request for Information (RFI) seeking comments from the business community and from workers in its effort to improve FMLA rules. The request is expected by April of next year or sooner, according to a business publication.

A look at changes to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

If you have been reading our Morristown, New Jersey Employment Law Blog, you undoubtedly know that our state legislature and Governor Phil Murphy have to a large extent remade important parts of employment law.

One of the most significant changes was brought about by Senate Bill 121, which amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).

More on the changes on the way to New Jersey employment law

Regular readers of our Morristown employment law blog will no doubt recall that in our previous post, we took a look at the recently enacted omnibus law that is bringing significant changes to New Jersey employment law.

Effective July 1, the law makes changes to the Family Leave Act, SAFE Act, Temporary Disability Benefits Act and more.

Significant changes coming to New Jersey employment law

As regular readers of our employment law blog know, we try to keep readers apprised of developments in federal and state employment laws and policies. New Jersey recently enacted an omnibus law that all employers should be aware of. The measure expands employee benefits in several key areas, including unpaid family leave, temporary paid family leave insurance and domestic or sexual violence safety leave.

Our state’s already generous worker protections and entitlements were significantly expanded by the legislation. The goalposts were moved in several key laws, including the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), the Security and Financial Empowerment Act (SAFE Act) and the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Act (TDB).

CR-Law Legal Alert

Alert: On March 18, 2019, Governor Murphy signed into law Senate Bill No. 121, which will dramatically and prospectively alter the landscape on arbitration and settlements of claims based on discrimination, retaliation and harassment. The law takes effect immediately. Specifically, the new law provides:

  • Non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements of claims of discrimination, retaliation or harassment are unenforceable. A provision in any employment contract or settlement agreement which has the purpose or effect of concealing the details relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment is against public policy and is unenforceable against an employee who is a party to such agreement. If the employee publicly reveals sufficient details of the claim so that employer is reasonably identifiable, then the provision is also unenforceable. In short, an employee can demand confidentiality. But an employer cannot. Regardless, it's now against public policy.

Non-compete agreements: How do they help businesses?

Non-compete agreements are indispensable tools for many New Jersey businesses. It’s often crucial for employers to keep former employees from sharing trade secrets, client information and business plans with competitors.

But a non-compete agreement can cover other activities as well, such as limiting a former worker’s ability to recruit current employees for a competing firm. The agreements can also be crafted by an experienced employment law attorney to stop former employees from using customer lists and sales leads obtained on the job to poach valued customers or potential clients.

What's the difference between business and commercial law?

If you run a business, you may have wondered if there is a difference between "business law" and "commercial law." Many people use the words "business" and "commercial" almost interchangeably. Is there a difference -- and does it affect the kind of lawyer you need?

The differences between the two areas of law are real, but the two areas overlap a great deal. For most situations you'll encounter as a business owner, the same lawyer should be able to assist you with either.

Acknowledgement is Short of Agreement to Arbitrate

Lately, it seems like a new opinion about the enforceability of arbitration provisions in New Jersey comes out every day. In a newly published Appellate Division opinion, written by the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division, Jack Sabatino, P.J.A.D., the court held a click through arbitration agreement was unenforceable. At the outset, the Court described the case as exemplifying the "inadequate way for an employer to go about extracting employees' agreement to submit to binding arbitration for future claims and thereby waive their rights to sue the employer and seek a jury trial." The plaintiff, here, alleged religious discrimination in violation of the New Jersey LAD (stemming from a mandatory vaccination policy).

IRS has rules for proper employee classification; help available

If you aren't certain your workers are properly classified as employees or independent contractors, you're not alone. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor is keeping an eye out for companies that classify workers as contractors when they are legally employees. This is because contractors aren't entitled to employer contributions to payroll taxes, provide workers' comp, unemployment insurance and other benefits. They are also exempt from a number of protective workplace laws.

If you are found to have misclassified workers, you could owe back wages and overtime. If the DOL decides you misclassified them willfully or intentionally, you could be liable for twice the actual wages owed.

District Court of New Jersey Holds the Equal Pay Act is Not Retroactive

In a slip copy opinion authored by Judge William J. Martini, U.S.D.J., the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey held that the recently enacted New Jersey Equal Pay Act (NJEPA) does not have retroactive application. Perrotto v. Morgan Advanced Materials, PLC, 2019 WL 192903 (Jan. 15, 2019). The issue came before the court by a Motion to Dismiss, filed by Defendants. The court granted the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss without holding oral argument. This holding is important to employers as the potential damages for violation of the Equal Pay Act are the salary or wages due from the employer plus an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, as well as attorney's fees.

Plaintiff had the title Controller/Human Resources until her termination on April 5, 2018. Just three weeks later, the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (codified at N.J.S.A. §34:11-56:13) was signed into law, which requires "pay equality across all protected classes." The Act became effective on July 1, 2018. Plaintiff filed this action on July 27, 2018, alleging gender discrimination under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination and retaliatory compensation practices under the NJEPA. Her compensation claim alleged Defendants paid male employees more than female employees, for substantially similar work.

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