New Employment-Related Bills Pending in the New Jersey Legislature

Several bills currently pending in the New Jersey Legislature could make substantial changes to state laws dealing with employees’ rights in the workplace. Two bills address various forms of employment discrimination, and another two would raise the state’s minimum wage. Each bill was introduced in early 2016 and referred to a committee. Three bills are still awaiting committee hearings, while one of the minimum wage bills passed both chambers and is now waiting for the governor’s signature or veto. Whether any of these bills pass or not, they bring needed attention to issues that employees face throughout New Jersey.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in New Jersey is currently $8.38 per hour. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 34:11-56a4, N.J.A.C. § 12:56-3.1. A bill that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour has passed both houses of the Legislature. A15 would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour on January 1, 2017. On the first day of each subsequent year, the minimum wage would increase by the greater of either $1.25 per hour or $1.00 plus that year’s increase in the consumer price index.

The goal of the bill is for the minimum wage to reach or exceed $15 per hour by 2021. The bill was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly on February 8, 2016. The Assembly passed it on May 26, followed by the Senate on June 23. The governor has reportedly threatened to veto the bill but has not yet done so. He also has not signed it into law.

Another bill, A3471, would institute an almost immediate but temporary minimum wage increase in certain New Jersey counties. On January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for employees in Essex, Hudson, Camden, Mercer, and Middlesex Counties would increase to $20 per hour. This rate would remain in effect for five years, until January 1, 2022, when it would revert to the rate that is in effect for the rest of the state. The bill was introduced in the Assembly on March 14, 2016 and referred to the Labor Committee, where it remains.

Employment Discrimination

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), N.J. Rev. Stat. § 10:5-12, already offers some of the most comprehensive protections in the country against workplace discrimination. A1379, which was introduced in the Assembly on January 27 and referred to the Human Services Committee, would amend the NJLAD to include “familial status” as a protected category, extend discrimination protections to independent contractors, require “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant employees and employees with disabilities, expand protections against age discrimination, and prohibit most instances of “English only” workplace rules.

A bill introduced in the Senate on January 12, S618, would prohibit employers from engaging in “credit history discrimination.” An employer would not be able to request or require credit reports on current or prospective employees unless they relate to a specific requirement for the job, or the employer suspects financial misconduct by the employee. The bill is still pending in the Labor Committee.

If you need to speak to an employment discrimination attorney in New Jersey or New York, contact the Resnick Law Group online, at 973-781-1204, or at (646) 867-7997.

More Blog Posts:

Employees May Be Able to Assert Title VII Claims Regardless of Immigration Status, According to Appellate Court Ruling, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, June 3, 2016

Certain Terms May Act as Code for Age Discrimination, Other Unlawful Employment Practices in New Jersey, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, May 19, 2016

EEOC Settles Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against New York Metro Area Retailer for $2.1 Million, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, May 13, 2016

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