Legislative Alert: New Jersey on A Fast Track to Ban Waivers of, and NDAs relating to, Employment Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Claims

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a number of states are considering legislation that would limit an employer’s ability to use non-disclosure agreements (“NDAs”) when settling sexual harassment claims. New York was the first state to enact such legislation, which was passed as part of a wide-ranging budget bill that takes effect July 11, 2018. New York’s law bans non-disclosure provisions in settlements of claims involving sexual harassment allegations, unless confidentiality is the “complainant’s preference,” provided some onerous procedures are complied with. Washington State passed a similar law. Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania are also considering legislation to restrict the use of NDAs.

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Philadelphia Salary History Ban: Judge Rules that Employers Can Ask About – But Not Use – Prior Salary History

On April 30, 2018, a federal district court issued a long-anticipated ruling on Philadelphia’s salary history ban. The ban, scheduled to take effect May 23, 2017, has two parts: (1) the “Inquiry Provision,” precluding employers from inquiring about a prospective hire’s wage history; and (2) the “Reliance Provision,” prohibiting employers from relying on the wage history of a new employee in determining the employee’s pay, unless the employee “knowingly and willingly disclosed his or her wage history to the employer.”

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Managing in the #MeToo Era: Are Employers Required to Conduct Anti-Harassment Training?

On April 11, 2018, the New York City Council passed a package of legislation referred to as the “Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act,” (“NYC Act”) which, if passed, will require covered New York City employers to, among other things, provide annual anti-sexual harassment training to employees.  The legislation now awaits the signature of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. New York City follows on the heels of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing the Budget Bill, which contained a new state law (“NY State Act”) requiring covered employers to provide annual anti-sexual harassment training to employees as of October 9, 2018.  For a more comprehensive discussion about the NYC Act and NY State Act, please see our LaborSphere blog. Also, employers will be receiving more guidance regarding what constitutes compliant training programs as New York City’s legislation, if passed, directs the NYC Human Rights Commission to develop an online interactive module that can be used to satisfy the law’s requirements.  In New York, the Commissioner of Labor and the New York State Human Rights Division are jointly compelled to create a model sexual harassment training program.

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New Jersey Enacts Comprehensive Equal Pay Law – What Employers Need to Know

Governor Phil Murphy recently made good on his campaign promise to make equal pay a top priority in New Jersey. On April 24, 2018, Governor Murphy signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (the “Act”), which amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). The Act was passed by the New Jersey Legislature on March 27, 2018, and takes effect on July 1, 2018.

The Act is being heralded as one of the most expansive equal pay laws in the country, and impacts hiring practices, compensation practices, employee arbitration agreements and how HR must respond to employee demands for information regarding their co-workers’ compensation.
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New Jersey Expands Protections to Nursing Mothers

The New Jersey Legislature recently passed a bill amending the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) to include breastfeeding as a protected category. The law took effect immediately after it was signed into law by former Governor Christie on January 8, 2018.

Breastfeeding Protections under the NJLAD

Under the amended law, upon request, employers must provide nursing mothers with reasonable breaks during the workday and a suitable private location (other than a toilet stall) close to the employee’s work area to express breast milk for her infant child as a reasonable accommodation, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations. In determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship, the following factors are to be considered:

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New Jersey District Court Judge Discards Jury’s $50 Million Punitive Damage Award to Age Discrimination Plaintiff

About a year ago, we published an article on the firm’s LaborSphere blog about a $51.4 million jury award to a former Lockheed Martin employee who alleged age discrimination when he was let go as part of a company-wide reduction in force (“RIF”).  At the time of the verdict, press coverage speculated that the multimillion dollar verdict was roughly five times more than any prior award, throughout the country, in a single-plaintiff discrimination case.  Recently, U.S. District Court Judge Renee Bumb tossed out the $50 million punitive damages award because the plaintiff failed to show that Lockheed Martin’s upper management was involved in or indifferent to the discriminatory conduct.

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