New Jersey might not seem like it has a lot in com- mon with California, but, like the Golden State, the Garden State offers expansive employee rights, says David Garland, an attorney with Epstein Becker
Green in New York City and Newark, N.J.
Whistle-blowers. The state has one of the country’s broadest whistle-blower protection laws. The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act doesn’t require whistle-blowers to
show that employers did something illegal, only that the whistle-blower reasonably believed a violation happened.
Discrimination. The state’s anti-discrimination law, the New
Jersey Law Against Discrimination, is also a broad remedial statute. It prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and,
in certain limited situations, bars sexual harassment against
“Need not apply.” In 2011, New Jersey became the first state
to adopt a “need not apply” law prohibiting employers from publishing job postings that list “currently employed” as a job qualification or that indicate applicants must have jobs, notes Christina Joy Grese, an attorney with Duane Morris in New York City
who also practices in New Jersey.
The local statute does not, however, bar companies from
requiring prospective employees to have current and valid professional licenses or credentials, and neither does it prevent employers from limiting their job search to their own employees, she
Penalties include a fine of $1,000 for the first violation,
$5,000 for a second and $10,000 for each subsequent infringement, collectible by the commissioner of labor and workforce
development. The statute does not create a private cause of action
for individuals against prospective employers.
Paid Sick Leave:
The N.J. Municipalities
Several New Jersey municipalities have sick-leave
statutes that permit employees to accrue paid leave
to care for themselves and their family members
and that in many cases are more stringent than state
or federal government laws. These municipalities
Be wary of using independent contractors or consultants.
“This has been an area of much focus by both federal and state
agencies over the last few years, and now it is even easier for
workers to challenge status under recent New Jersey case law.
Specifically, the presumption is that a worker is an employee
and the burden is on the employer to establish other wise,” Grese
Finally, as a number of additional employee-friendly initiatives are pending in the New Jersey Legislature, stay apprised of
proposed legislation that “could significantly impact how you do
business,” she recommends.
That’s good advice for HR professionals in any state.
Allen Smith, J.D., is manager of workplace law content for SHRM.
■ ■ Bloomfield
■ ■ East Orange
■ ■ Elizabeth
■ ■ Irvington
■ ■ Jersey City
■ ■ Montclair
■ ■ Morristown
■ ■ New Brunswick
■ ■ Newark
■ ■ Passaic
■ ■ Paterson
■ ■ Plainfield
■ ■ Trenton
Many people believe that
once a new governor is
elected in New Jersey in
November, there will be a
renewed effort to pass a
statewide paid-sick-leave law.
Note that a 2014 bill would have gone even further and
prohibited employers from refusing to hire applicants because
they were unemployed, but it was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie
on the grounds that it would have been administratively unenforceable and would have driven up the costs of doing business
in the state.
Regarding sick leave, many people believe that once a new
governor is elected in November, there will be a renewed effort
to pass a statewide paid-sick-leave law, Cohen says.