Ramon E. Rivera
January 20, 2015
Year in Review: New Jersey Employment Law
New Jersey employment law underwent many important changes over the past year. More importantly, many of the new laws will take effect in 2015. To ensure that your company has updated its policies and procedures accordingly, below is a brief summary:
Banning the Box:
This summer, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation that limits the ability of New Jersey employers to rely on criminal records when making employment decisions. The Opportunity to Compete Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from requiring an “applicant for employment” to complete any “employment application that makes any inquiries regarding an applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process.” The new law will take effect on March 1, 2015.
Mandatory Sick Leave:
Jersey City’s sick leave law, which mandates that businesses that employ 10 or more workers must provide up to five days of paid sick leave, took effect on January 24, 2014. Shortly thereafter, Newark passed a similar ordinance that requires all private sector employers with 10 or more employees to provide up to five days of paid sick leave per year, while businesses with less than 10 employees are only obligated to provide up to three days of paid sick leave. This fall, Paterson, Irvington, Passaic, East Orange also approved sick leave ordinances. Many are effective January 1, 2015.
In January, the Governor signed legislation that added pregnancy and childbirth to the list of protected categories under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Under the amended law, employers cannot treat a pregnant woman in a manner less favorable than other persons not “affected by pregnancy” with similar ability or inability to work. “Affected by pregnancy” refers to women who are pregnant and women who have medical conditions relating to pregnancy or childbirth. Employers must make available reasonable accommodation for pregnancy-related needs when requested by the employee with the advice of her physician.
New Jersey courts also issued several key decisions in 2014. For instance, in June, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that employers can alter New Jersey’s two-year statute of limitations for employment lawsuits by agreement. In August, the appeals court ruled that the NJLAD protects employees who are going through a divorce.
Do you have any comments about the changes in New Jersey employment law last year? Feel free to leave a comment below.