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Does New Jersey's Conscientious "Everyone" Protection Act Trump the NLRB's Exclusive Jurisdiction? State Supreme Court says "Yes"

Executive Summary: Just when employers thought New Jersey's Supreme Court could not expand the state's whistleblower law further (as we reported last summer), the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) once again has been broadened. Now the Court has held that an employee governed by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and allegedly terminated in retaliation for engaging in protected activity concerning wages regulated by the CBA may bring a CEPA claim in New Jersey state court —rather than pursue the same claim for relief before the National Labor Relations Board. In so doing, the Court's decision erases any doubt CEPA likely is the most far-reaching whistleblowing statute in the U.S.

New Jersey Employer’s Fear of Employee’s “Ugly Divorce” Forms Basis of Marital Status Bias Claim

In Smith v. Millville Rescue Squad, (A-19-14, June 21, 2016), the New Jersey Supreme Court broadly interpreted the prohibition against marital status discrimination in the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to protect a person who has separated from his or her spouse and is in the process of getting a divorce. In the case at hand, a plaintiff was discharged after he informed his supervisor he was engaged in an affair with a coworker and that he and his wife (another coworker) were about to commence divorce proceedings. Fearing there would be an “ugly divorce,” the supervisor took the matter to the company’s board of directors, which terminated the plaintiff’s employment.

New Jersey Supreme Court Broadly Defines “Marital Status” Discrimination

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently interpreted the state’s antidiscrimination law in an expansive manner, concluding that a broad spectrum of individuals can file suit and claim that their employers unfairly discriminated against them on the basis of their marital status. Not only will plaintiffs who believe they were targeted for mistreatment on the basis of their current marriage be able to find refuge under the law, but also will those engaged, separated, divorced, widowed, or even those who have never been married.

New Jersey Supreme Court Nixes Shortened Timeframe for LAD Claims

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently overturned the longstanding policy of permitting employers and employees to agree to a shortened timeframe for an employee to file a discrimination suit under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The case, Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Co., concerned the enforceability of a shortened statute of limitations contained in an employment application. The language in dispute, written in all capital letters and bold font, stated, “I agree that any claim or lawsuit relating to my service with [Defendant] must be filed no more than six (6) months after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or lawsuit. I waive any statute of limitations to the contrary.” The plaintiff signed the application and began his employment.

New Jersey Employers Cannot Reduce Employees' Time To File Discrimination Claims From Two Year Statute Of Limitations, Rules Unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court

Executive Summary: The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that employment agreements shortening the time in which an employee may file a discrimination claim against his or her employer under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) are unenforceable. In a decision issued June 15, 2016, the Court unanimously ruled (6-0) that a six-month time limit for filing claims contained in an employment application was unenforceable and did not bar the plaintiff's disability discrimination claims. See Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Company, Inc., No. A-27-14 (June 15, 2016).

N.J. Employers No Longer Able To Shrink Lawsuit Time Limits

The New Jersey Supreme Court just ruled that employers are not permitted to shorten the time frame that workers have to file a discrimination claim under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), reversing a 2014 appellate victory. The decision means that employers will want to revise their applications and other agreements to eliminate any offending language that otherwise shortens the two-year statute of limitations. However, employers may find some small measure of solace in the decision, as it may actually work to reduce the number of lawsuits filed against you (Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Co. Inc.).

New Jersey Legislative Update: Paid Sick Leave Bill Stalls Again, But Minimum Wage Hike Advances

New Jersey legislators have delayed a vote on the Paid Sick Leave Act to allow the Assembly and Senate a chance to settle their disputes over the bill’s impact on small employers and its preemptive effect on municipal ordinances mandating paid sick leave. These are the same issues that led to failure of the March 2016 vote in the legislature.

New Jersey Bills Would Burden Employers with Scheduling and Pay Rules

Both the New Jersey General Assembly (A1117, reported out of committee on April 4) and Senate (S1397, introduced on February 11, 2016) have introduced bills to enact the “New Jersey Schedules That Work Act,” a law that would dramatically curtail New Jersey employers’ ability to schedule their employees’ shifts.

New Jersey Legislative Update, Part II: What’s in the Works for New Jersey Employers?

On March 14, 2016, a bill (A3471) was introduced that would require all employers in Essex, Hudson, Camden, Mercer, and Middlesex counties to pay their employees at least $20 per hour from January 1, 2017, through January 1, 2022, at which point the minimum wage would revert to the state’s current minimum wage.

Jersey City Proposes Groundbreaking Minimum Workweek Ordinance

The City of Jersey City, New Jersey, recognizing that building service employees compose “a significant portion” of those who work in the City, is considering an ordinance to establish a minimum 30-hour workweek for them. The measure, launched by City Council President Rolando Lavarro, Jr., and backed by Mayor Steve Fulop, seeks to mandate that employers provide certain building services employees with at least 30 hours of work per workweek.