Workplace Laws and Regulations

The New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act takes effect today, October 29, 2018. Just in time for flu season.

If you are a New Jersey employer or an employer with employees in New Jersey, regardless of size or employee number, you are now required by law to provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked – up to 40 hours in a benefit year – to all employees (including part-time and seasonal) with the minor exceptions of: (i) per diem health care employees, (ii) construction workers employed under a collective bargaining agreement (who will later begin to accrue sick leave under the law on the date the agreement expires), and (iii) public employees previously entitled to sick leave benefits under state law.

Sick leave under the law begins to accrue on the law’s effective date (October 29th), or upon an employee’s later date of hire, and may begin to be used 120 days after an employee’s start of employment (or upon such earlier date that an employer permits).  Leave granted under the law may be advanced in whole, or be subject to accrual.

The state law preempts the various municipal laws previously in effect.  Employers who provide paid time off (PTO) banks are compliant with the Act provided the PTO may be used for the purposes and in the manner set forth under the state law and is accrued at a rate equal to or greater than the rate provided by the law.

An employer may choose the increments in which an employee may use earned sick leave, provided that the largest increment required does not exceed the number of hours an employee is scheduled to work for that shift (including any overtime). Acceptable reasons for using paid sick leave include: (i) for preventative care or the diagnosis, care, treatment or recovery of an employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or that of their family member; (ii) treatment, counseling or preparation for legal proceedings necessary following domestic or sexual violence to an employee or their family member; (iii) an employee’s need to attend school-related conferences, meetings or events regarding their child’s education, or to attend a school-related meeting concerning their child’s health; or (iv) an employee’s time off upon the employer’s closing, or the closing of their child’s school or child care provider, due to a public health emergency.
Continue Reading New Jersey Employers: The State Paid Sick Leave Law Is Now In Effect – Are You Ready?

Employers considering requiring their employees sign arbitration agreements with class waivers just got a real-world example of the effectiveness of such agreements. On September 25, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the enforceability of arbitration agreements signed by thousands of Uber drivers in California. In the underlying lawsuits, the Uber

The United States District Court of New Jersey recently dismissed an employee’s disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and retaliation claims, holding that neither the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) nor the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) required the employer to waive its drug testing requirements.

In Cotto v. Ardagh Glass Packing

With a few minor tweaks here and there, your company has probably relied on the same severance and employment-related settlement agreements for years. Sure, you touch base with your friendly neighborhood employment lawyer from time to time to ensure there haven’t been any significant legal developments that necessitate revisions. But aside from peripheral alterations, these agreements have, by and large, retained their same basic form and content.

Among the most important terms of your company’s “form” severance and settlement agreements is the confidentiality clause. This provision protects your business from the public disclosure of potentially damaging allegations of workplace wrongdoing. This is particularly important when the asserted allegations exaggerate or skew the facts or are flat out spurious. Or when the alleged misconduct was perpetrated by a rogue manager, unbeknownst to management. Regardless of the reason, the confidentiality clause is of paramount importance. In fact, outside of the employee’s release of claims, your company – like so many others – considers this clause to be the seminal term of the agreement. Without it, your company might be far more hesitant, if not outright unwilling, to enter into potentially costly severance and settlement arrangements with current and former employees.

Two recently enacted laws – one at the federal level and one spurred by New York legislators – threaten to topple the long-standing use of confidentiality clauses in severance and settlement agreements, at least in cases involving sexual harassment. Below, we discuss each of these laws, as well as how you and your company can navigate the proverbial minefield of recent nondisclosure-related legislation.Continue Reading Are confidentiality clauses about to become a relic in sexual harassment cases?

Get ready, set…but wait…maybe not… As employers gear up to meet the swiftly approaching December 1, 2016, deadline to implement the Department of Labor’s (‘DOL”) new overtime pay requirements for white-collar workers, 21 states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and several other business groups filed legal challenges in various courts to halt the changes The DOL’s Final Rule was specifically designed to raise the salary of low-wage workers who perform exempt work, and therefore, do not qualify to be paid for overtime. Although some welcome this amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for America’s workers, others believe the revisions basically ignore the type of work performed in favor of doubling the salary threshold for overtime exemption.  Although many employers are wondering if the filing of the new lawsuits will top the new rules from coming into force, they are advised to continue working diligently to adjust their business practices in order to ensure compliance with the law’s requirements until further notice.
Continue Reading We May Not Have Heard The Last Word . . . The New White Collar Exemption Rules

The California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (“Healthy Families Act”) is fully effective July 1, 2015, including the significant potential for class-action liability for non-compliance. It is critical that employers ensure that their sick leave policy is current, given the ever-developing legal guidance. We have created a helpful list of common areas of confusion with this new law.

(1) General Background on the Healthy Families Act

The Healthy Families Act provides sick leave for absences from work for: (1) the diagnosis, care, or treatment (including preventive treatment) of an existing health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member, and (2) the employee being the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Family member is expansively defined to include children, parents, foster parents, legal guardians, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, spouses, and domestic partners.

The law requires employers to include information regarding accrual and use of sick leave with their employees’ wage statements. Further, employers must preserve these sick leave records for three years. Moreover, relevant posters and individual notices should have been posted and delivered as of January 1, 2015. New hires must also receive pertinent individual notices explaining their rights under the Healthy Families Act.

(2) Employees Must Provide “Reasonable” Notice.

The Healthy Families Act limits employers to requiring only “reasonable advance notification” of employee use of sick leave. Where unforeseeable, an employer may only require notice when “practicable.”Continue Reading California Sick Leave To Go into Effect July 1 – Be Aware of These Common Traps

The changes to employees’ rights to take leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) go into effect July 1, 2015. Your company should be prepared only if it has done the following:

  • Reviewed the changes to the CFRA regulations, which may be found here.
  • Updated your policies and employee handbooks to reflect the legal changes in CFRA eligibility, medical certification, and leave administration.
  • Trained managers, supervisors and human resources professionals on the CFRA legal changes.
  • Updated electronic and hard copy postings and notices regarding CFRA leave – ensuring they are legible; in large, easy-to-read text; with the postings in conspicuous places that can be viewed by both employees and applicants.
  • Ensured that all postings and notices are translated in any language(s) spoken by 10 percent or more of the workforce.

The amended CFRA regulations synthesize the requirements for CFRA leave with those under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to the extent there are no conflicts between the federal and state laws. Here are the key points in the revised CFRA regulations for employers:Continue Reading Is Your Company Prepared for the Changes to CFRA Leave?

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in Coats v. DISH Network, holding that the recreational use of marijuana is not a lawful activity under Colorado’s Lawful Activities Act (“Act”). The Act prohibits employers from terminating employees for off-hours lawful activities. The court applied the Act broadly, holding that the recreational use

It’s no secret that the EEOC—and even some courts—read Title VII to prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. A growing number of state and city laws also specifically include gender identity and/or expression as protected characteristics. But while employers may understand the legal dangers of firing someone for “coming out” as transgender, the extent of employers’ day-to-day obligations with respect to transgender employees in the workplace is far less clear. For example:

  • Are transgender employees entitled to access particular bathrooms or change their company employment records? And, if so, at what point in an employee’s gender transition must an employer accommodate such requests?
  • How should employers address negative reactions and attitudes from coworkers?

Two recent EEOC cases provide initial guidance for employers trying to navigate these tricky—and still relatively uncharted—employment law waters.Continue Reading Transgender at Work: How Employers Can Stay Off the EEOC Radar Screen

This post was also written by Megan E. Farrell.

On June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that a job applicant can establish religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 without proof that the employer had “actual knowledge” of the applicant’s need for an accommodation; instead, the applicant “need only show that his [or her] need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision” (emphasis added). Writing for eight of the Court’s nine Justices, Justice Scalia explained that employers “may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions.” EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., No. 14-86, ___ S. Ct. ___ (2015).Continue Reading EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch: Do You Need to Ask Applicants Whether They Require Religious Accommodation?