ALERT: New Jersey Raising Minimum Wage!

Thomas J. Szymanski

New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase by 25 cents, from $8.60 to $8.85 per hour, effective January 1, 2019. For non-exempt employees making the minimum wage, employers will be required to pay an overtime rate of $13.28 for every hour worked over 40 in a work week, to comply with the State’s minimum wage requirements.

Employers should be aware that one of Governor Phil Murphy’s top legislative priorities is to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Although the Legislature passed a $15-an-hour minimum wage bill in 2016, which was vetoed by then-Governor Chris Christie, neither Governor Murphy nor the Legislature has communicated a path forward to get another bill on the table.

As wage payment violations carry significant penalties in New Jersey, you should contact a member of Blank Rome’s labor & employment practice group if you have any questions about compliance with New Jersey’s minimum wage increase or any other wage and hour issues.

Requesting a Background Check to Make an Employment Decision? Read This First.

Thomas J. Szymanski

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) provides federally-imposed limitations on all employers who seek information from a Consumer Reporting Agency about an applicant or employee for use in making an employment decision, such as a hiring or promotion. The FCRA contains specific notice, authorization, and reporting requirements related to obtaining a Consumer Report, including credit reports and criminal background checks, and potentially taking an adverse employment action based on that information.

Requirements before you request a Consumer Report: Continue reading “Requesting a Background Check to Make an Employment Decision? Read This First.”

Workplace Safety Incentive Programs and Post-Incident Drug Testing—Still Okay under OSHA but Don’t Discourage Accident Reporting

Mark Blondman

Many employers have implemented workplace safety incentive programs in an effort to reduce time lost to injuries or illness. The programs generally reward workers for reporting near-misses or hazards and/or reward employees with a prize or bonus at the end of an injury-free period. The programs also may evaluate managers based on their work unit’s lack of injuries. Similarly, employers have implemented drug testing protocols with the same goals.

In May 2016, concerned that employers were not using incentive programs and drug testing policies to encourage safe practices but, instead, to punish employees who reported workplace safety issues, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published a final rule prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. The final rule also suggested that it might constitute retaliation for an employer to limit post-incident and post-accident drug testing to the employee who reported an injury as a result of a workplace incident/accident and not to test all of the employees involved in the incident. Continue reading “Workplace Safety Incentive Programs and Post-Incident Drug Testing—Still Okay under OSHA but Don’t Discourage Accident Reporting”

Update on New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act

Mark Blondman

In an earlier post, we provided a preview of the New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act. The Act goes into effect on October 29, 2018. Last week, the Department of Labor and Workplace Development, the state agency responsible for interpreting the Act, published a “Notice of Employee Rights” under the Act and a copy of that Notice/Poster is available here. The Notice must be posted by employers in conspicuous locations in every worksite in New Jersey and must be distributed to all New Jersey employees by November 29 and at the time of hiring for all new employees hired after October 29.

The Act imposes significant obligations on employers in New Jersey. You can contact a member of Blank Rome’s labor & employment practice group if you have any questions about what needs to be in your policies.

Goodbye Uber Class Action, Hello Individual Arbitration

Natalie Alameddine and Caroline Powell Donelan

Last week, in a significant blow to claims that gig economy workers are entitled to pursue disputes on a class or collective basis, and possibly whether those workers will be able to establish that they are employees and not independent contractors, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decertified a class of 240,000 Uber drivers. The decision in O’Conner v. Uber is a victory for the ride-share company, which will now be able to defend claims that it misclassified employees as independent contractors on an individual basis—one arbitration at a time.

For the past five years, there has been an ongoing and contentious dispute over whether Uber drivers (and similarly, Lyft and other ride-share drivers) are independent contractors or employees. If the workers are deemed to be employees, Uber could face hundreds of millions of dollars in alleged California labor code violations and business expense claims. To combat the possibility of having to litigate this issue on a class-wide basis, Uber entered into arbitration agreements with each driver, requiring that any driver’s claims be arbitrated and that each case had to be arbitrated individually (rather than as a class action). Continue reading “Goodbye Uber Class Action, Hello Individual Arbitration”

NY Harassment Training Deadline Extended!

Mark Blondman

As we have advised you in previous blog posts, New York State has passed legislation mandating that employers adopt an anti-harassment policy and conduct harassment training for all employees. The law requires that, by October 9, 2018, employers distribute to employees in New York State a written policy that meets certain prescribed legal standards.

Earlier this week, New York State issued a final set of employer guidance materials on sexual harassment prevention, including model training materials and Minimum Standards for Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies, a Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy, and a Model Complaint Form. Employers are permitted to implement the Model Policy or may develop policies on their own as long as they meet minimum legal requirements.

Most importantly, although the New York law had originally required that employers conduct harassment training for all employees by January 1, 2019, the guidance issued this week extends the deadline to October 9, 2019. Please use this additional time effectively!

OFCCP Is Staying Busy—So Should Government Contractors

Merle M. DeLancey Jr.

In February, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) sent Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters (“CSALs”) to 1,000 contractor establishments. Shortly thereafter, in March, OFCCP mailed follow-up compliance review scheduling letters (“Scheduling letters”). On September 7, 2018, OFCCP sent a second round of CSALs to an additional 750 contractor establishments.

Further, on September 19, 2018, OFCCP issued Directive 2018-08: Transparency in OFCCP Compliance Activities. The purpose of the Directive is to “ensure transparency in all stages of OFCCP compliance activities to help contractors comply with their obligations and know what to expect during a compliance evaluation, and to protect workers from discrimination through the consistent enforcement of OFCCP legal authorities.” The Directive identifies the “Roles and Responsibilities” of OFCCP and contractors during a compliance review and the “Policies and Procedures” that will be followed. Continue reading “OFCCP Is Staying Busy—So Should Government Contractors”