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New Jersey Agency Issues Regulations on Statewide “Ban-the-Box” Law

As previously reported, on August 11, 2014, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed “The Opportunity to Compete Act” – New Jersey’s so-called “ban-the-box” law – which restricts the ability of covered employers to inquire into, and use, criminal records. On November 2, 2015, New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which is responsible for enforcing the Act, released “The Opportunity to Compete Act Rules” (Rules). The Rules became effective on December 7, 2015. This Insight will provide an overview of the Act and also will highlight key portions of the new rules.1

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.

Final Regulations Issued by the NJDOL for New Jersey Employers Regarding Ban the Box

Last month, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) released final regulations to further define some of the ambiguous terms contained in New Jersey’s “Ban the Box” law, titled the Opportunity to Compete Act (OTCA), which went into effect March 1, 2015. As a reminder, OTCA prohibits most New Jersey employers from requiring an applicant to complete a job application that makes any inquiries regarding the applicant’s arrest or criminal record, or from making any inquiry (verbal or written) concerning an applicant’s arrest or criminal record during the “initial employment application process,” which runs from the employer’s first “contact” with the applicant concerning potential employment and concludes when the employer has conducted a first interview of the job applicant, with some industry exceptions.

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, as

New Jersey Veterans May Soon Be Entitled to Preferential Hiring in Non-Civil Service Jurisdictions

On December 3, 2015, Senate Bill 2145 was approved, 62-0, by the New Jersey Assembly. (The bill had already been passed by the New Jersey Senate in May.) If signed into law, the bill would authorize counties and municipalities whose hiring preferences are not subject to civil service hiring rules to give veterans preferential treatment in hiring so long as a veteran is at least as qualified as other candidates for the position.

New Jersey Supreme Court Establishes Test for Compensation Disgorgement When Employee Breaches Duty of Loyalty

The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that a court may order the disgorgement of an employee's compensation when the employee has breached his or her duty of loyalty to the employer—even if the employer has not sustained economic loss as a consequence of that breach.

Just in Time for the Holidays, New Brunswick Gives the "Gift" of Paid Sick/Safe Time

On December 17, 2015, New Brunswick, New Jersey passed a sick and safe leave ordinance that provides up to 40 hours of paid sick and safe leave to employees beginning on January 6, 2016. Although there are similarities between this ordinance and other sick leave ordinances in New Jersey, there are substantive differences as well. Consequently, employers that previously updated their time-off policies to comply with other sick leave ordinances in New Jersey will need to revisit those policies to ensure compliance.

Expanded Protections Proposed for Breastfeeding Employees in New Jersey

On November 16, 2015, a bill was introduced to extend the protections of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to breastfeeding mothers. If enacted, New Jersey Assembly Bill 4696 would require New Jersey employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for breastfeeding mothers, including reasonable break time each day and a suitable room or other location with privacy (other than a toilet stall), in close proximity to the work area, for the employee to express breast milk. Terminating an employee from her employment because she is breastfeeding or expressing breast milk during breaks would constitute a violation under the NJLAD. Previous versions of this bill were unsuccessful in the 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 legislative sessions.

New Jersey Issues New Ban-the-Box Regulations

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has adopted regulations for the Opportunity to Compete Act, the state Ban-the-Box Law, clarifying many questions, including the Act’s impact on businesses with multistate operations.

Bill Proposed to Restrict New Jersey Employers’ Ability to Obtain Salary and Benefits Information from Prior Employers

On November 16, 2015, a bill was introduced that would prohibit employers from seeking, obtaining, or requiring current or prospective employees to provide information about their compensation and benefits history at their prior employer. New Jersey Assembly, No. 4709 also would prohibit employers from releasing the salary history of a current or former employee without written authorization from the employee. An employer that violates any provision of the bill would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,000 for the first violation and $5,000 for each subsequent violation.