By: Chantal N. Guerriero, Esq. and Ty Hyderally, Esq.
A new wave of employee-friendly protections designed to educate employees and encourage them to stand up for their rights have made their way into New Jersey Law. Among a number of these new Bills recently signed by Governor Phil Murphy, A5630, which supplements Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes was put into effect. A5630 requires the Civil Service Commission to establish and maintain a hotline for State employees to submit suspected reports of workplace discrimination and harassment.
This hotline protects state employee-informants by ensuring the confidentiality of their communications. This means that such employees may report suspected discrimination and harassment and have protections, under the statute, if they face retaliation from their employer. The hotline is designed to respond to each report with individualized information concerning the relevant laws, policies, and procedures implicated by the report. The hotline also offers appropriate referrals for further assistance and counseling. In turn, this hotline provides a convenient and safe manner for employees to both fully learn about their rights and report misconduct and enable them to seek legal counsel if the nature of the conduct complained of rises to the level of a violation of the New Jersey anti-discrimination and harassment laws, like the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et. seq.
A second law among many recently put into effect concerns educating employees on whether and when their employment status has been misclassified as that of an independent contractor rather than an employee. As misclassified employees are exposed to negative consequences with regard to their wages, employment benefits, taxes, and other contributions, the new law, A5843, is designed to curb this practice by ensuring that employees know how to correctly classify themselves. The law requires employers to conspicuously post in the workplace an educational notice which includes:
(1) The prohibition against employers misclassifying employees;
(2) The standard … to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor;
(3) The benefits and protections to which an employee is entitled under State wage, benefit and tax laws;
(4) The remedies under New Jersey law to which workers affected by misclassification may be entitled; and
(5) Information on how a worker or a worker’s authorized representative may contact, by telephone, mail and e-mail, a representative of the commissioner to provide information to, or file a complaint with, the representative regarding possible worker misclassification.
More specifically, the notice will inform employees of New Jersey’s ‘ABC Test,’ which sets forth three points to assess whether or not they are truly independent contractors. Unless all three criteria are met under the test, the employee is not an independent contractor:
Like the many new employee-friendly laws in New Jersey, A5843 also contains an anti-retaliation provision which prohibits employers from taking retaliatory or discouraging action against an employee who has made an inquiry or complaint to their employer regarding the misclassification posting. Like the new state hotline law, A5843 will educate employees about their rights and relevant New Jersey laws, embolden employees to stand up for themselves, and allow them to quickly recognize when their rights have been violated and legal counsel is thus required.
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