Employment Law Alert Blog

New Jersey Enacts and Expands Laws Providing Employees With Enhanced Benefits and Protections Resulting From COVID-19

New Jersey Enacts and Expands Laws Providing Employees With Enhanced Benefits and Protections Resulting From COVID-19

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has recently signed into law two important bills – one (AB 3848) providing job protection to certain employees impacted by COVID-19 (“the COVID-19 Act” or “Act”), and the other (S2304) expanding the scope of the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law (ESLL), the New Jersey Family Leave Act (FLA), and the New Jersey Temporary Disability Law (“TDBL”). The Act, along with the amendments to the existing laws referenced above, are discussed below and are intended to increase protection and benefits to employees as a result of COVID-19. Job Protection for Certain Employees Who Take Time Off Due to Infectious Disease Under the COVID-19 Act, during the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by Governor Murphy concerning the coronavirus, employers are prohibited from terminating or refusing to reinstate an employee who requests or takes time off from work, for a specified time period, at the recommendation of a licensed New Jersey medical professional because the employee has or is likely to have an infectious disease that could infect others in the employee’s workplace. Upon the employee’s return from time off, he or she must be reinstated to the same position held when leave began,...

The WARN Act and the Coronavirus Epidemic

The WARN Act and the Coronavirus Epidemic

As the coronavirus epidemic continues to impact the economy, employers are faced with the prospect of shutting down their operations or continuing operations with a significantly reduced workforce for an indeterminate period of time. Employers anticipating the need for significant workforce reductions should be mindful of whether these reductions will implicate the federal WARN Act, and companies with employees in New Jersey and/or New York must also pay attention to the WARN Acts in effect in those states. This article will first briefly outline the requirements of the federal, New Jersey, and New York WARN statutes and will then discuss those requirements in the context of workforce reductions necessitated by the current crisis. The WARN Statutes The WARN statutes are extremely complicated, but, as a rule of thumb, whenever a New Jersey employer is contemplating terminating at least 50 employees, the employer should seek advice from counsel familiar with the federal and New Jersey WARN statutes. Should either of those statutes apply, the affected employees must be given at least 60 days’ notice of their terminations unless a statutory exception permits a lesser period of notice. As a rule of thumb, employers in New York should seek advice from counsel...

Employers Must Act Fast: Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed Into Law

Employers Must Act Fast: Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed Into Law

To follow up on our recent blog post, “Workplace Planning for Coronavirus Concerns,” we are summarizing for our clients the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which President Trump signed into law on March 18, 2020. The House of Representative passed an earlier bill on March 14, but – two days later – revisited and significantly altered the bill on March 16, before sending it to the Senate for consideration. On March 18, the Senate passed the revised House version with no changes, and, that same day, the amended bill was signed into law. The FFCRA takes effect not later than April 2, 2020 (15 days after its enactment) and expires on December 31, 2020. With respect to employers, it contains certain provisions of particular note, including the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, discussed below. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“Emergency FMLA” or the “Act”) applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees (“covered employers”). Employees who have been employed by a covered employer for 30 calendar days are eligible for up to 12 weeks of emergency paid family medical leave...

Governor Cuomo Takes Action in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Governor Cuomo Takes Action in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

New York now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, and, unfortunately, the number continues to increase on a daily basis. In efforts to contain the spread of the virus and support those employees who have been impacted, Governor Cuomo and the legislature have acted swiftly to enact responsive laws. Relief for Employees on Orders of Quarantine or Isolation On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law Senate Bill S809/ Assembly Bill A10153, which provides job protection and paid leave for New York employees subject to mandatory or precautionary orders of quarantine or isolation issued by the State of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such orders due to COVID-19. The law is effective immediately and provides sick leave to affected employees as follows: Employers with ten or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020 and a net income less than $1 million must provide affected employees with unpaid sick leave, along with job protection for the duration of the quarantine or isolation order and must provide those employees with access to Paid Family Leave and disability benefits (short-term disability) for the...

Workplace Planning for Coronavirus Concerns

Workplace Planning for Coronavirus Concerns

As coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, employers continue to inquire how they can safeguard employees’ health and well-being while ensuring the ability to maintain essential business operations. Our advice remains the same: The best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure. Working from home for as many employees as possible is now the new normal for most businesses. In addition, employers large and small should take the time now to assess their policies and processes, addressing specific operational and human resources plans and issues in light of the current and evolving circumstances, as well as anticipated plans as a result of the pending Families First Coronavirus Response Act. On March 14, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (H.R. 6201), which provides for a limited period of paid sick leave and expands the Family Medical Leave Act to provide an extended period of unpaid or partially paid leave for a public health emergency. The bill is now before the Senate, where it is expected to pass sometime this week. The bill contains several provisions that will impact employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employers...

Seven Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department Attorneys Selected to 2020 New Jersey Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Seven Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department Attorneys Selected to 2020 New Jersey Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Seven Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Department attorneys were featured in New Jersey Super Lawyers and New Jersey Super Lawyers Rising Stars, with five Department attorneys on the 2020 Super Lawyers list and two on the 2020 Rising Stars list. These attorneys were listed in a wide range of categories, including Employment & Labor and Employment Litigation – Defense. Highlights of this year’s New Jersey Super Lawyers list include the top-tier rankings earned by two Department attorneys. Top 10 Attorneys in New Jersey Christine A. Amalfe, Chair, Employment & Labor Law Department Top 100 Attorneys in New Jersey Christine A. Amalfe, Chair, Employment & Labor Law Department Susan L. Nardone, Director, Employment & Labor Law Department Top 50 Female Attorneys in New Jersey Christine A. Amalfe, Chair, Employment & Labor Law Department Susan L. Nardone, Director, Employment & Labor Law Department The Gibbons attorneys listed in the 2020 issue of New Jersey Super Lawyers are Christine A. Amalfe, Kelly Ann Bird, Susan L. Nardone, Kristin D. Sostowski, and Richard S. Zackin. James J. La Rocca and Joseph E. Santanasto were selected to the 2020 New Jersey Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. For the full release, please see here.

New Jersey Division on Civil Rights Issues Guidance on the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act

New Jersey Division on Civil Rights Issues Guidance on the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act

On March 2, 2020, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (“DCR”) issued a Guidance Memorandum on the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (“the Act”), which took effect in July 2018 and is widely considered to be one of the most employee-protective equal pay laws in the nation. In a statement made on the day of the Guidance Memorandum’s (“guidelines”) release, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy reaffirmed his administration’s intention to eliminate discriminatory pay practices throughout the State that have historically prevented women and other minority groups from earning equal pay. The guidelines include a legal overview, with specific attention paid to the Act’s changes to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), and provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”). The first section of the guidelines offer an overview of the Act’s main provisions and provide details on how the Act modifies the LAD. As a refresher, the overview outlines the DCR’s position as to the five most important provisions of the Act: Expanded Remedies for Pay Discrimination: The Act amended the LAD to implement a six-year “lookback” period which allows employees who prove pay discrimination to recover up to six years of back pay if the discrimination...

UPDATE: Mandatory Nondiscrimination Policies, Training and Reporting: Proposed New Jersey Legislation Would Impose New Obligations on Employers and Lengthen the Limitations Period

UPDATE: Mandatory Nondiscrimination Policies, Training and Reporting: Proposed New Jersey Legislation Would Impose New Obligations on Employers and Lengthen the Limitations Period

On February 18, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy continued his quest to enhance employee protections in New Jersey by announcing proposed legislation aimed at strengthening New Jersey’s already-expansive prohibitions against harassment and discrimination in the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). According to the proposed legislative findings, the bill was designed to “reject the norms of yesterday that overlooked workplace harassment and discrimination as business as usual.” The proposed legislation comes on the heels of a report released by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) this month, Preventing and Eliminating Sexual Harassment in New Jersey, the result of a trio of public hearings held in September 2019. Employers are already scrambling to keep up with legislation directed at protecting call center employees, cracking down on misclassification, and expanding the rights of employees affected by a mass layoff or plant closing. Here are the highlights from the proposed legislation: Expanded Definition of Employee. Domestic workers and unpaid interns would be added to the definition of “employees” under the NJLAD and there are specific provisions governing domestic workers. Extended Time for Filing Claims. The current two-year statute of limitations applicable to claims brought under the NJLAD would be extended to three...

New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act: Potential Headaches for Employers

New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act: Potential Headaches for Employers

On January 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act (“Act”). A copy of the Act may be found here. The new law, designed to provide protection to call center employees in the State, includes strict notice requirements along with penalties for New Jersey employers relocating a call center overseas, or transferring call center operations out of state. Under the Act, New Jersey call centers that employ at least 50 full-time employees or at least 50 workers who in the aggregate work 1,500 or more hours per week (excluding overtime) must maintain staffing levels capable of handling at least 65% of the employer’s customer volume of telephone calls, emails, or “other electronic communications” (“customer communications”) when measured against the previous six month average volume of communications originating from New Jersey callers or locations. If a call center’s staffing level falls below the required minimum levels, the employer must immediately notify the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development (“Commissioner”). In addition, any employer that relocates a call center, or transfers one or more of its operations comprising at least 20% of the call center’s total volume of customer communications as measured against the...

The Third Circuit Rules That Philadelphia’s Salary History Ban Is Constitutional

The Third Circuit Rules That Philadelphia’s Salary History Ban Is Constitutional

On February 6, 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Philadelphia law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history is constitutional, lifting the injunction the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (“District Court”) imposed on certain provisions of the law. The legislation at issue, the Wage Equity Ordinance (“Ordinance” or “law”) aims to address the historic wage gaps that affect women and minorities by encouraging employers to base salary offers on prospective job responsibilities rather than an applicant’s prior wages. The Ordinance was signed into law by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in January 2017, and was set to take effect in May 2017. The law contains two key provisions: (1) the “inquiry provision,” which makes it unlawful for Philadelphia employers and employment agencies (collectively “employers”) to inquire into an applicant’s wage and benefit history; and (2) the “reliance provision,” which makes it unlawful for employers to rely on an applicant’s wage history to determine future wages. The law also prevents employers from retaliating against any candidate who does not respond to a wage inquiry. The law does not prohibit a prospective employee from voluntarily disclosing compensation history; nor, are...