New Jersey’s Lawmakers Continue to Be Busy
On January 20, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law several employee-friendly bills. In particular, employers should take note of the following:
Fines for Employee Misclassification
One of the new laws authorizes New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development to assess fines of up to $250 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent violations against businesses for intentionally misclassifying workers as independent contractors. In addition, the Department is authorized to institute a penalty of up to 5 percent of a misclassified worker’s gross earnings over the previous 12 months against the employer who failed to properly classify the worker.
Joint Employer Liability and Liability of Individual Managers
Another newly enacted law provides for joint liability for civil violations of state wage or tax laws, including laws regarding the misclassification of workers, for businesses and labor contractors entering into an arrangement for the contractor to provide workers to the business. In addition, the new law provides that any individual acting on behalf of the employer – including owners, officers or managers – who violates state wage or tax laws may be subject to liability.
New Posting Requirement
Yet another misclassification-related law requires employers to conspicuously post notices at their worksites describing employee misclassification. The law further prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee because the employee has inquired or complained about possible misclassification or because the employee has commenced or intends to commence a proceeding or has testified in a proceeding relating to worker misclassification. This law takes effect April 1, 2020.
Severance for Mass Layoffs
Finally, New Jersey has revised the state’s mini version of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. New Jersey law previously required employers to provide covered employees with 60 days’ notice of a plant shutdown or mass layoff, consistent with federal law. Under the new law, affected employers must instead provide 90 days’ notice. Affected employers were already required to provide severance pay equal to one week of wages for each full year of employment to covered employees. Now, under the amendment, employers must pay covered employees an additional four weeks of severance if they fail to provide the full 90 days’ notice.
Employers should consult with experienced human resources professionals and/or labor and employment counsel with any questions regarding these new employment laws and any required changes to employer policies and practices. For MEA members, the Hotline and a Member Legal Services attorney are available to provide this assistance.
Amy G. McAndrew, Esquire
Director of Legal and Compliance Services
MidAtlantic Employers’ Association
*This Alert is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.