New York City Bans Employers From Using Credit Checks To Screen Job Applicants

Under a bill signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, New York City businesses will be banned from using credit reports, bankruptcies and liens to disqualify applicants from employment. The Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act, which was sponsored by Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), takes effect in 120 days and will amend the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).  Only three New York City Council members voted against the measure.  Advocates of the law pressed politicians for the prohibition arguing that law-abiding applicants cannot get jobs after being saddled with student loans or medical bills that have ruined their credit.  New York City will now join California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the city of Chicago in limiting the use of credit checks for employment purposes.

Under the new law, it will be an unlawful discriminatory practice for a New York City employer, labor organization, or employment agency to request or use for hiring or other employment purposes the consumer credit history of an employee or applicant. “Consumer credit history” includes an individual’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, or payment history as indicated by a consumer credit report, credit score, or information an employer obtains directly from the individual.

The new law, however, provides for several exemptions: law enforcement and other professions involving a high level of public trust or access to sensitive information, and for employers who conduct credit history checks pursuant to state and federal laws or regulations. For these positions, employers must still comply with the notice and consent requirements of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as well as any equivalent state or local laws.  FCRA requires notice to the applicant, providing a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” and obtaining written authorization/consent from the applicant or employee.

Given the amendment to the NYCHRL, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“NYCCHR”) will be the law’s enforcement authority.  Individuals will be able to file a complaint with the NYCCHR or file an action directly in state court. Successful plaintiffs will be able to recover back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, reinstatement and/or other equitable relief.

Employers’ Takeaway

  • As of September 3, 2015, subject to limited exceptions, New York City employers may not utilize credit reports, bankruptcies and liens to disqualify applicants from employment.
  • Employers who use credit checks should carefully review the limited exceptions in the law to determine which positions, if any, can still be subject to credit checks.
  • Employers must review their application forms, offer letters, and handbooks with counsel to ensure the removal of any reference to credit checks for positions that do not meet one of the law’s limited exceptions.

For more information regarding the new law and to learn how Genova Burns can assist your company to comply with the new law by September 3, 2015, please contact John C. Petrella, Director of the firm’s Employment Litigation Practice Group at jpetrella@genovaburns.com or Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com or 973-533-0777.

Supreme Court: The EEOC Must Answer For Its Efforts To Conciliate

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that courts may review whether the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) fulfilled its obligations to engage in conciliation efforts with employers before filing lawsuits against them under Title VII. Writing for the unanimous Court in Mach Mining, LLP v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 575 U.S. ___ (2015), Justice Elena Kagan rejected the EEOC’s argument that Title VII provided no standards by which a court might evaluate the sufficiency of the EEOC’s conciliation efforts. Justice Kagan emphasized the importance of conciliation within the scheme of Title VII and wrote that absent judicial review, “[t]he Commission’s compliance with the law would rest in the Commission’s hands alone.”

The case in Mach Mining was brought after a woman filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC claiming that the company refused to hire her as a coal miner because of her sex. The EEOC thereafter found reason to believe that Mach Mining had also discriminated against a class of women who unsuccessfully applied for mining-related jobs. The EEOC notified Mach Mining that it intended to begin informal conciliation. After a year of discussions, the EEOC advised Mach Mining in 2011 that the conciliation process had failed, and filed a complaint in the district court. In its answer to the Complaint, Mach Mining argued that the EEOC had failed to conciliate in good faith. In response, the EEOC argued that its conciliation efforts were not reviewable by the court. The district court certified that issue for appeal to the Seventh Circuit. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit held that the EEOC’s conciliation efforts were not reviewable by the court. The Seventh Circuit found that allowing court review of the EEOC conciliation process would create an avenue for employers to bypass liability for discriminatory behavior. The Seventh Circuit’s decision created a circuit split, as the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits have all held that the EEOC’s duty to conciliate is reviewable to some extent.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in June of 2014. The Court’s focus was whether Title VII’s broad grant of authority to the EEOC allowed room for judicial review of the conciliation process. The Justices sought to define a workable standard that would allow for limited review while still giving the EEOC wide discretion. In Wednesday’s opinion, the Court found that a court may review whether or not the EEOC “satisfied its statutory obligation to attempt conciliation before filing suit. But we find that the scope of that review is narrow,” and wrote further that the EEOC may still “determine the kind and amount of communication with an employer appropriate in any given case.” However, the Court determined that the EEOC’s “bookend” letters to Mach Mining were insufficient to prove that it had “actually, and not just purportedly, tried to conciliate a discrimination charge.”

To comply with Title VII, the Supreme Court held that “[a] sworn affidavit from the EEOC stating that it has performed [its conciliation obligations] but that its efforts have failed will usually suffice to show that it has met the conciliation requirement.” Judicial review is limited to ensuring that the EEOC has sworn that it has performed the conciliation process, and weighing any evidence provided by the employer that the EEOC had not actually participated in the conciliation process as sworn.

Employers’ Takeaway: The decision by the Supreme Court in Mach Mining ensures that the EEOC must afford employers with an adequate opportunity to discuss and address any perceived Title VII violation through its conciliation process. The decision makes clear that it is not sufficient for the EEOC to merely notify employers of the alleged violation and then inform the employer that the conciliation process has ended. If your organization receives a “reasonable cause” finding, monitor what efforts the EEOC makes to conciliate and pursue voluntary compliance. If the EEOC fails to do so, employers may seek to compel the EEOC to make an effort compliant with its statutory obligations before the EEOC files suit. Employers, however, should note that the decision in Mach Mining explicitly gives the EEOC broad discretion in the conciliation process and the decision cannot be relied upon as an opportunity to challenge all EEOC conciliation efforts.

For more information regarding this case and to learn how your business can implement best practices when dealing with the EEOC, please contact John C. Petrella, Director of the firm’s Employment Litigation Practice Group at jpeteralla@genovaburns.com or Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com or 973-533-0777.

SEC Targets Confidentiality Agreements That Stifle Whistle-Blowing

On April 1, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced its first enforcement action and settlement against a company for violations of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act regulations.  KBR, Inc. required some of its employees to sign a Confidentiality Statement which warned that an employee could be subject to discipline, up to and including termination, if the employee discussed an internal investigation with outside parties without receiving prior authorization from KBR’s legal department.  The SEC found that the Confidentiality Statement violated SEC Rule 21F-17, which forbids companies from “tak[ing] any action to impede an individual from communicating directly” with the SEC regarding possible securities violations. Although the SEC did not find that KBR had tried to enforce the provision or prevent anyone from speaking with the SEC, the SEC found that the language within the confidentiality agreement alone was sufficient to violate Rule 21F-17(a).

The SEC’s announcement is being hailed as a major victory for whistleblowers, protecting them from signing excessively restrictive confidentiality agreements that threaten lawsuits and termination for reporting allegations of fraud. The SEC’s Cease-and-Desist Order found that this Confidentiality Statement had a sufficient potential to intimidate whistleblowing activity, and was contrary to SEC Rule 21F-17’s purpose of encouraging individuals to report potential violations to the SEC.

In addition to a $130,000 fine, KBR voluntarily amended its Confidentiality Statement to inform employees that the Statement does not prohibit employees from reporting possible violations of federal law or regulation to any government agency or entity.  Additionally, KBR agreed to notify KBR employees that signed the Confidentiality Statement about the SEC Order.  Given the SEC’s renewed focus on confidentiality agreements, companies that utilize these agreements (whether contained in company policies, codes of conduct, severance agreements, employment agreements, or otherwise) should consider how these provisions might be viewed by the SEC.

Employer Takeaways

  • The SEC’s enforcement action against KBR demonstrates that all employee agreements must be drafted to ensure that they do not suggest that the reporting of a potential violation to government agencies will subject the employee to an adverse employment action.
  • Employers and in-house counsel should review their confidentiality, settlement and severance agreements to ensure that customary confidentiality provisions do not prevent an individual from communicating with the SEC about a potential securities law violation.
  • Internal policies, confidentiality statements, codes of conduct, and certification procedures should remind employees that they have the right to file claims and disclose information regarding the employer’s business practices, not only with the SEC but with the EEOC, the Department of Labor, or any other applicable enforcement entity.

For more information about how your organization should comply with the SEC’s regulations, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resources Practice Group at 732-842-2732, DMastellone@genovaburns.com, or Julia A. O’Halloran, Esq. at 973-646-3296, JOHalloran@genovaburns.com.

 

NLRB Guidance Further Defines Permissive Employer Handbook Rules

The NLRB’s General Counsel recently issued a report further defining the limitations on an employer’s ability to enact workplace rules which tend to interfere with an employee’s Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Section 7 rights generally entitle employees to self-organize, form or join a labor organization, bargain collectively, and engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining, as well as the right to refrain from such activities.

The report analyzes real life examples of employer rules the NLRB has assessed to determine whether the rules interfere with the employees’ rights and provides insight into the types of policies that the NLRB is likely to uphold.

Analyses of challenged work place rules are reviewed in the full context in which the issue surrounding the rule arose; the NLRB guidance states that it will not read employer rules in isolation to determine their legality. Relying on previously litigated handbook provisions for guidance, the NLRB nonetheless identifies a number of handbook rules typically deemed unlawful. Common characteristics among unlawful employer rules include use of overbroad phrases such as “inappropriate” or “negative”; blanket restrictions on certain types of conduct; and failure to provide any definition or examples of the conduct the employer seeks to prohibit.

By contrast, lawful employer rules tend to clarify broad statements, define vague terms, provide specific examples and use careful language that would not cause an employee to reasonably interpret the rule to prohibit Section 7 activity. For example, while a work rule that requires the employee to “be polite” may be overbroad, a rule prohibiting unprofessional behavior while performing company business with company clients may be more likely to be upheld.

The General Counsel’s report also focuses on areas such as confidentiality of information, professionalism, anti-harassment, trademark, photography and recording, leaving work and conflict of interest for illustrative purposes. Of particular note is the attention given to the recent Wendy’s International LLC settlement, wherein a significant number of Employer policies were set aside as unlawful based on the failure to narrowly tailor prohibited conduct. The settlement in this case clarified these employer rules by providing express examples such as limiting the use of company logos for non-commercial purposes and expressly excepting behaviors which involve Section 7 activities.

The NLRB’s report demonstrates the care with which an employer’s handbook must be crafted to avoid Section 7 challenges. Employers should reevaluate their current handbook rules in light of guidance contained in this report. For more information about crafting lawful employer rules, or if you have any questions about the NLRB’s recent guidance, please contact James J. McGovern III, Esq. Director of the Labor Law Practice Group, at 973.535.7122, jmcgovern@genovaburns.com, or Nicole Leitner, Esq., at 973.387.7897, nleitner@genovaburns.com.

Same-Sex Couples Now Receive Equal Coverage Under The FMLA

On Friday, March 27, 2015, the Department of Labor (“DOL”)’s new regulation revising the definition of “spouse” to include those in same-sex marriages went into effect expanding the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”).

With the reversal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, President Obama instructed all federal agencies to determine if federal benefits programs should be expanded as a result. Consequently, on February 25, 2015, the DOL published a Final Rule (“Final Rule”) which amended the regulatory definition of spouse under the FMLA to include all individuals in legal marriages, regardless of where they live thus ensuring that the FMLA will give spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their FMLA rights.  Prior to the New Rule, the DOL used the “state of residence” rule, which required the employer to look to its own state’s marriage laws to determine if an employee claiming FMLA leave actually had a “spouse”.  Thus, same-sex couples who were married in a state where the union was legal, but resided in a state that does not recognize same, these individuals would not be considered spouses under the old standard.

Under the new “place of celebration” standard, the definition of spouse is now a husband or wife as defined or recognized in the state where the individual was married (“place of celebration”), and specifically includes individuals in same-sex and common law marriages.  The Final Rule also defines spouse to include a husband or wife in a marriage that was validly entered into outside of the United States if it could have been entered into in at least one state.  Thirty-Seven (37) states currently recognize same‑sex marriage, while thirteen (13) states do not yet recognize the union.

It is important to note that the new regulatory definition of spouse does not substantively alter the FMLA.  For example, it does not change the eligibility requirements or an employee’s entitlement to take up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period, or what types of employers are covered by the FMLA.  All requirements for eligibility, qualifying reasons for leave, employee and employer notification, and certification must be met.  The revised definition also expands the right of both parents to utilize FMLA leave for the birth or adoption of their child.  Under the previous language, these rights were limited to the “mother” and “father”, limiting this option to partners in a heterosexual marriage.

As expected, not all states have agreed with this change. On March 26, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, granted a request made by the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska for a preliminary injunction with respect to DOL’s Final Rule.  The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who was joined by the Attorney Generals for Nebraska, Arkansas, and Louisiana, was able to show a likelihood of prevailing on his claim that a change in the federal law’s definition of spouse would force Texas employers to choose between breaking federal or state laws.  U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ultimately agreed with the coalition of states in finding that the agency was exceeding its authority in changing the Final Rule.  In his opinion, Judge O’Connor stated his belief that Congress “intended to preserve a state’s ability to define marriage in this way without being obligated under the laws of another jurisdiction which may define it differently.”

Takeaway for Employers:

  • Given the injunction, a great deal of uncertainty surrounds the DOL’s Final Rule with additional court rulings expected in the coming months.  A recent posting on the DOL’s website about the decision provides no clear answers.
  • In the interim, the best approach for those employers operating in New York and New Jersey is offer FMLA benefits to employees in same-sex marriages who qualify for leave under the DOL’s new definition of spouse.
  • Continue to follow our blog and the DOL’s website www.dol.gov for further developments.

For questions related to compliance with the FMLA, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resource Practices Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resource Practices Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com.

N.J. Business Groups Vow To Fight Paid Sick Leave Law in Trenton

A group of six business organizations—including the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce—has filed a lawsuit against the City of Trenton, New Jersey, demanding the delay of a voter-approved measure requiring Trenton employers to provide their workers with paid sick leave.

The coalition is asking the Mercer County Superior Court to overturn the measure, arguing that it is unconstitutional, and preempted by state statutes.  The Ordinance, No. 14-45, become law on Wednesday, March 6th –120 days after 5,989 Trenton voters approved the measure in a November 2014 referendum.

In its papers, the coalition argues that the City lacks legal authority to implement the Ordinance.  More specifically, the group contends that the measure is a direct violation of the police powers granted to municipalities, which are subject to constitutional limits. In addition, the measure “substantially impairs” employer-employee contracts, in violation of the Contract Clause.  The group further argues that the city is over-stepping its powers and cannot reach beyond its municipal boundaries to require employers located outside of Trenton to provide paid sick leave for employees who work at least 80 hours a year in the City.  Christopher Gibson, the attorney for the group, said “Trenton’s mandatory paid sick leave ordinance is vague, ambiguous and contrary to New Jersey law and impossible to interpret, administer or implement.”

Notably, Trenton’s law is modeled after a similar ordinance successfully implemented in Newark. The Newark law requires employers with 10 or more workers to provide up to 40 hours—accruing one hour for every 30 hours worked – of paid sick time annually. Employers with fewer than 10 workers only have to provide up to 24 hours of paid sick time. Those in the child care, home health care and food service industries are required to provide the full 40 hours regardless of their size.

The referendum forced Trenton to join eight other municipalities within the state to pass such a measure. Over the past two years, local legislators in Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington and Montclair have passed their own versions of this ordinance. Earlier this month, Bloomfield joined the movement and passed its own paid sick leave law. Montclair, whose referendum was approved in November along with Trenton, also ushered in paid sick leave Ordinance on March 4th.  Notably, a State Assembly panel passed a statewide version of the bill in December.

For questions related to Trenton’s paid sick time ordinance, or compliance with your local paid sick leave laws, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resource Practices Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resource Practices Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com.

Philadelphia Signs Paid Sick Leave Law

Yesterday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed mandatory paid sick leave into law, a law that is expected to benefit up to 200,000 Philadelphians.

Taking effect in just 90 days – or no later than May 13, 2015 – the Promoting Healthy Family in the Workplace Law will require businesses within the City of Philadelphia with 10 or more employees to provide workers with at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked – approximately five days per year.  Sick time may be used for an employee’s health care, the care of a family member, and time needed to seek support in dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault.

The new law also creates exceptions for independent contractors, seasonal workers or those hired for fewer than six months, adjunct professors, interns and government employees.  The law also specifically exempts unionized workers working under collective-bargaining agreements, due to the powerful building trades unions in the city opposed having unions included.  Failure to comply can result in fines, penalties, and restitution.

The law intended to be the minimum requirement, allowing businesses to implement more generous benefits for their employees.  Businesses that already provide sick pay meeting or exceeding the law’s requirements need not change their policies. Employers that violate the ordinance will be subject to fines, penalties, and restitution.  An employer who wilfully violates the notice and positing requirements of the new law are also subject to a civil fine in an amount not to exceed $100 for each separate offense.

Seven years after the initial push by Councilman William K. Greenlee, Philadelphia finally joined the coalition of 16 cities and three states which have similar laws in its books. Mayor Nutter previously vetoed similar bills in 2011 and 2013, citing concerns about the economic recession.  Passage of the law makes Philadelphia the 17th city in the US to mandate paid sick leave, and it is the second largest city in the country after New York City to do so. During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to pass federal-sick leave legislation.

In New Jersey, a number of Municipalities have enacted similar laws, and a bill is currently pending in the state Assembly that would expand the initiative state wide. In its current form, the N.J. bill would require employers with fewer than 10 employees to offer at least 40 hours of sick time per year, while businesses with more than 10 employees would have to offer at least 72 hours of paid sick time per year.

For questions related to Philadelphia’s paid sick time ordinance, or compliance with your local paid sick leave laws, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resource Practices Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resource Practices Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com.

Obama Continues to Push For Federal Sick Leave

During his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama continued his push for a mandatory paid sick leave law by calling on Congress to act and send him a bill.

The White House first announced its plans last week in a post published on LinkedIn.  Stating that the United States’ failure to require employers to provide paid family is “shameful,” Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett advised that the President would call on Congress to require companies to give workers up to seven days of paid sick leave a year. The proposal, called the “Healthy Families Act,” would allow employees to earn a minimum of seven paid sick days per year.

In addition to pushing Congress to act, President Obama followed up on a promise made during his 2014 State of the Union address by signing a presidential memorandum (a tool similar to an executive order used to direct federal agencies to implement a White House policy), giving federal employees access to six weeks of paid parental leave by allowing new parents to advance their sick time.  While the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) already provides workers with the ability to take time off to care for their own health or that of certain family members, the leave is unpaid.

In order to promote change and action in the state level, the President has proposed $2.2 billion in new funds in the 2016 budget to encourage states to adopt their own paid leave programs. In New Jersey, a bill that would require paid sick time for all employees, including part-timers, was advanced by state legislators in December. In its current form, the NJ bill would require employers with fewer than 10 employees to offer at least 40 hours of sick time per year, while businesses with more than 10 employees would have to offer at least 72 hours of paid sick time per year.

For questions related to this legislation or compliance with local paid sick time laws,please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resource Practices Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resource Practices Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com.

NJ Employees may soon be able to stay home during States of Emergency

During weather-related states of emergency, many businesses remain open and expect employees to report to work. Employees are then faced with a choice between commuting in potentially dangerous road conditions, or staying home and being docked a day’s pay.

A N.J. state lawmaker believes that staying home in such a situation should be a penalty-free option. A bill introduced by State Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic), which was recently referred to the Assembly Labor Committee for a hearing, would protect employees from having to brave the weather to get to work.

Under the Bill (A3958), employers would be banned from taking retaliatory action against an employee who is unable to get to work during states of emergency.  The bill does not, however, require employers to provide a paid day off. Employers would not be required to pay employees who do not work, and those unable to get to work would have to notify their supervisors in a timely manner. Returning to work at the end of the declared state of emergency would also be expected, provided that it is safe to do so.

The bill carves out exceptions which include emergency personnel and those needed to provide other essential services, such as healthcare or utility workers. Additionally, the benefit would only be extended to employees who live in areas affected by the emergency.

A similar measure (1717) in the Senate, introduced by Peter Banes, III (D-District 18) and Linda Greenstein (D- District 14), was advanced out of committee in September.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding payment of wages during weather-related states of emergency, delayed openings or closures, please contact Dina Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resources Practice Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resources Practice Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com.

NJ Requires Many Notifications to Employees in 2015

As New Jersey employers ring in the new year, they should be mindful of the New Jersey Department of Labor’s notice distribution requirements.  The DOL publishes several important notices which, in addition to posting, must be individually distributed to employees as follows:

New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE” Act)

  • In addition to a posting requirement, the NJ SAFE Act regulations require employers to “use other appropriate means to keep its employees so informed.”
  • Employers should include a written policy on the NJ SAFE Act in the employee handbook and/or distribute a copy of the notice to all current employees and to new employees upon hire.

Employer Obligation to Maintain and Report Records

  • Any new employee hired after November 7, 2011, must be provided a written copy of the notice at the time of hiring. The notice may be distributed to employees by hard copy or via electronic mail.

 New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJ FLA”)

  • In addition to a posting requirement, the NJ FLA regulations require that if an employer has an employee handbook, “information concerning leave under the Act and employee obligations under the Act must be included in the handbook.”
  • If an employer does not have an employee handbook, it must “provide written guidance to each of its employees concerning all the employee’s rights and obligations under the Act.”
  • The DOL states that employers may duplicate and provide employees with a copy of the NJFLA Fact Sheet to provide such guidance.

New Jersey Family Leave Insurance

  • Employers must provide employees with a written copy of the notification: (i) at the time of the employee’s hiring; (ii) whenever an employee provides notice of a potential claim; and (iii) upon the first request of the employee. Written notification may be electronically transmitted to employees.

 New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act

  • The notice must be distributed annually to all employees.

NJ Gender Equity

  • Employers must provide a written copy of the notice to each employee who is hired after January 6, 2014 at the time of his or her hire.
  • Annually, on or before December 31 of each year, employers must provide each employee a written copy of the notice.
  • Employers also must provide each employee a written copy of the notice upon request.
  • The required written notice can be distributed electronically or in hard copy form.
  • In every instance in which a written notice is required to be provided to an employee, the written notice must be accompanied by an acknowledgment that the employee has received it and has read and understands its terms. This acknowledgment must be signed by the employee (in writing or by means of electronic verification) and returned to the employer within 30 days of the employee’s receipt of the notice.

It is important to note that, for some of these notices, merely posting will not fulfill the DOL’s distribution requirements.  Nor will merely including notices in your workplace Employee Handbook.  Each law sets forth unique notice requirements.  Moreover, the inclusion of required notices in an Employee Handbook is not recommended – only critical employment law and HR policies should be set forth in Employee Handbooks.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE REMINDER!

Effective January 1, 2015, the hourly minimum wage in New Jersey is $8.38 per hour.

For more information on employer obligations in 2015 and beyond, please contact Dina Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resources Practice Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at dmastellone@genovaburns.com, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resources Practice Group, at eaddison@genovaburns.com