NJ Labor And Employment Law

The New Jersey Labor and Employment Law Blog is authored by Jay S. Becker and Joseph C. DeBlasio, shareholders in the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group, with support from the associates in the Group. It is dedicated to provide news and updates regarding all labor and employment matters throughout New Jersey.

Are College Athletes Students or Employees?

July 11, 2014 | Comments Off
Posted by Jay S. Becker

Players on the Northwestern University football team recently filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to organize for collective bargaining purposes. Are college athletes students or employees?

Representation by a union under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) has been reserved solely for those in an employer/employee relationship. A good argument in this case can be made for both sides.  Black’s Law Dictionary defines an “employee” as a person who performs services and is under the control and direction of another.  The definition of “employment” includes a state of being which consumes time and/or attention.  On average, the Northwestern football players claim that they spend in excess of 40 hours a week on their sport.  For traditional employees, there are overtime laws that protect employees for working in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.  There are also worker’s compensation laws that provide benefits to employees in the event of a workplace related injury.  No such laws exist to protect student athletes in similar situations.

On the other side is the argument that these football players (like all student athletes) are students first and foremost, presumably playing due to a passion for that sport, while receiving a free education, room and board.  Moreover, student athletes also receive other benefits such as tutoring, preferential class selection and scheduling not available to the rest of the student body.

For now college athletes remain students, not employees.  But rest assured, we have yet to hear the end of this debate, which will likely be decided by the US Supreme Court.

New Jersey Bill Prohibiting Discrimination Against The Unemployed Edges Closer To New Law

June 4, 2014 | Comments Off
Posted by Ryan Carlson

On May 12, 2014, the New Jersey Senate approved a Bill (S.1440) that would make it unlawful for New Jersey employers to discriminate against job applicants who are currently unemployed.  This prohibition would apply to the hiring process as well as to the setting of terms and conditions of employment.

New Jersey law (NJSA 34:8B-1) currently prohibits employers from discriminating against unemployed persons in job postings or advertisements.  The proposed Bill, if passed, would expand protection to preclude discrimination of unemployed individuals with regard to hiring, compensation, or other terms, conditions or privileges of employment.  However, the Bill would not prohibit an employer from inquiring into an applicant’s employment history and the circumstances surrounding an applicant’s separation from prior employment.

A significant difference between the New Jersey Bill and similar laws prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed such as New York City’s Law, which became effective on June 1, 2013, is that the New Jersey Bill does not provide employees with a private cause of action to sue employers for discrimination.  Under the New Jersey Bill, employers who violate the Bill face fines of up to $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense and $10,000 for each subsequent offense, which is enforced by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  On the other hand, individuals who believe they have been discriminated against by New York City employers on the basis of their employment status have the right to sue in court and recover compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.

We will continue to monitor this Bill as it makes its way to the Assembly for approval before reaching the Governor.

Please contact us for more information or assistance.

Joseph C. DeBlasio, Esq. To Speak at DRI’s 37th Annual Employment and Labor Law Seminar, May 7-9, 2014

April 14, 2014 | Comments Off
Posted by Joseph C. DeBlasio

Joseph C. DeBlasio, Esq., co-chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Department, will be speaking at the Defense Research Institute’s (DRI) 37th Annual Employment and Labor Law Seminar being held in Scottsdale, Arizona from May 7-9, 2014. On May 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm, Mr. DeBlasio will be presenting on “Making the Most of the Plaintiff- Employee Deposition.” With the majority of employment law cases being resolved prior to trial, taking the plaintiff’s deposition is one of the most critical events. At Mr. DeBlasio’s program, you will learn how to develop a deposition strategy, including the most effective way to get the answers you need.

For more information or to register for this event, please click here.

STATE OF EMERGENCY! New Jersey Bill Seeks to Protect Employees In Weather Related States of Emergency

March 18, 2014 | Comments Off
Posted by Ryan Carlson

We can all agree that New Jersey had a rough winter.  This past winter undoubtedly hampered employee commutes and impacted overall productivity at many workplaces.  Employers also had to make difficult decisions regarding whether or not to open or close the business and if the business is open, what to do with employees who refuse to commute to work under the inclement weather conditions (i.e., charge the employee an earned paid or unpaid sick day, vacation day, or other leave, or count it as an unexcused absence).  Likewise, employees made difficult choices concerning whether to commute to work or risk the loss of paid or unpaid leave.

Recently, Senator Peter J. Barnes III (D-Middlesex) introduced a bill to the Senate Labor Committee that hopes to answer some of the questions that employers and employees face during states of emergency.  According to the bill, employers would be prohibited from requiring employees to use any sick, vacation, personal days, or other form of leave of absence that is paid or unpaid during a state of emergency. Employers would also be prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee who is unable to come to work during a state of emergency.  The bill, however, exempts public safety employees from these requirements such as police, fire departments, and emergency medical service personnel. Employers who violate the bill may also be subject to a $5000 penalty for the first offense and a $10,000 penalty for each additional offense.

The bill defines a state of emergency as a natural or man-made disaster or emergency in which a state of emergency is declared by the Governor or by a municipal emergency management coordinator. The Governor typically declares a state of emergency when he believes that a disaster will be severe enough to require state aid to supplement local resources in preventing or alleviating damages, loss, hardship or suffering.

While the bill does assist employers and employees with making objective decisions when facing states of emergency, it is unclear what impact the bill will have on small businesses that rely on a handful of key employees to help run the business.  Additionally, many businesses in today’s digital age provide employees with the alternative of working at home during states of emergency.  It is also unclear how the bill’s requirements will apply to employers and employees under these circumstances. These concerns should be addressed as the bill progresses.  We will continue to monitor this legislation.

Please contact us for more information or assistance.

New Jersey Enacts Pregnancy Discrimination And Accommodation Law Effective Immediately

February 10, 2014 | Comments Off
Posted by Ryan Carlson

On January 21, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-12, prohibiting employers who know or should know that an employee is pregnant or recovering from a pregnancy from discriminating against the employee in her terms and conditions of employment.  The law is effective immediately. Read more

January 6th Deadline For Employers To Comply With Gender Equity Notice And Posting Requirements

January 6, 2014 | Comments Off
Posted by Saranne E. Weimer

Beginning Monday, January 6, 2014, employers with fifty (50) or more employees are required to comply with the New Jersey Gender Equity posting and notice requirements.  The New Jersey law, passed in September of 2012, requires that all covered employers (1) post a notice regarding gender equity in a conspicuous place accessible by all employees, (2) provide a copy of the notice to all employees annually, and (3) receive a signed acknowledgment from the employees each year. Read more

Update: Jersey City Sick Leave Ordinance Posters Now Available For Employers

December 10, 2013 | Comments Off
Posted by Ryan Carlson

On September 25, 2013, Jersey City passed Ordinance Number 13-097, requiring that all Jersey City businesses provide paid sick leave to employees with 10 or more employees. Businesses with less than ten employees must provide unpaid sick leave. Read more

Joseph C. DeBlasio, Esq. and Sabrina Sandhu To Speak at Upcoming Seminar “Workplace Investigations in New Jersey”

December 2, 2013 | Comments Off
Posted by Joseph C. DeBlasio

Joseph C. DeBlasio, Esq., co-chair of the Labor & Employment Practice Area at Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla, and Sabrina Sandhu, an associate in the practice group, will speak at the “Workplace Investigations in New Jersey” Seminar being held on Friday, February 28, 2014 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm at the Wyndham Hotel in Mount Laurel.

To learn more, Click Here.

Newark City Council Introduces Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

November 12, 2013 | Comments Off
Posted by Sabrina Sandhu

On October 29, 2013, Newark City Council unanimously voted to introduce legislation that would require private employers operating in the city to provide paid sick time to their employees.  If the ordinance is enacted, eligible employees will be entitled to paid sick time to attend to their health conditions, to care for a family member’s health condition, to care for a child whose school or daycare has been closed due to a public health emergency, or when their own place of business has been closed due to a public health emergency. Read more

Update: New Jersey Employers Must Post Domestic Violence Leave Posters In The Work Place

October 4, 2013 | Comments Off
Posted by Ryan Carlson

Effective October 1, 2013, all New Jersey employers with over twenty-five (25) employees are required to provide notice of employee rights and obligations under New Jersey’s newly enacted “Safe Act.”

The Safe Act, which became effective on October 1, 2013, provides employees who suffer from an incident of domestic violence or sexually violent offense (as defined by N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19 and 30:4-27.6) with up to 20 days of unpaid leave to seek treatment or engage in other activity relating to the offense.  The Act also covers employees who are close family members of victims of domestic violence and sexually violent offenses.  The Act defines close family members as a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner. Read more

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