Updated on April 8, 2020
Since the effective date of this law, the New Jersey Department of Labor has issued regulations related to same. The regulations make clear that even if an employee is on leave for a protected reason, the employee is not entitled to reinstatement if the employee’s position is eliminated during a reduction in force (RIF), provided “the employee would have lost the position had the employee not been on leave,” as a result of the RIF “or pursuant to the good faith operation of a bona fide layoff and recall system including a system under a collective bargaining agreement.”
Effective March 20, 2020, New Jersey implemented a new law, P.L. 2020, c.9, prohibiting employers from terminating or otherwise penalizing employees if they request or take time off from work because the employee has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease that may infect others at the worksite. The employee’s medical status must (1) be supported by written recommendation of a medical professional licensed in New Jersey, and (2) include a specified time period for the employee’s absence. Where these requirements are met, an employer cannot refuse to reinstate the employee following the specified time period of absence, and reinstatement must be without reduction in seniority, status, employment benefits, pay or other terms and conditions of employment.
Violations of the law may be brought to the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development or in an action in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Available remedies for violations of the law include reinstatement, make whole orders, and a $2,500 fine to the employer for each infraction. Notably, the law does not include a fee shifting provision.