Update: Winter 2020 brings a flurry of new legislation targeting worker misclassification and New Jersey’s anti-harassment laws.

By: Cristina N. Hyde, J.D.

For the past two months, New Jersey legislators forged ahead with an overall agenda to address workplace protections both in the arenas of compensation and culture.  Most recently, in February, Governor Murphy proposed legislation that would revise the state’s anti-harassment laws.  The proposed legislation  not only clarifies the definition of important terms such as the “severe and pervasive” standard used to establish a hostile work environment but it also requires employers to establish policies and procedures to ensure compliance and provide training.  In addition, the proposed legislation extends protection to domestic workers and unpaid interns and increases the statute of limitations for bringing a claim.

This past January, five pieces of legislation were enacted; all aimed at discouraging the misclassification of employees as independent contractors.  The New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) is now authorized to issue stop work orders to employers found in violation of any State wage, benefit and tax law, including a failure to properly classify employees. P.L. 2019, c. 372.

The NJDOL is also empowered to assess additional penalties for any violations concerning the misclassification of employees.  Penalties include, fines ranging from $250 up to $1,000 and penalty payments made to the misclassified employee “of not more than 5 percent of the worker’s gross earnings over the past twelve months from the employer who failed to properly classify them.” P.L. 2019, c. 373 

Also enacted, P.L. 2019, c. 374  establishes joint and several liability for the payment of employer tax laws; expanding existing law related to violations of New Jersey Wage Laws and specifically including provisions of those laws “regarding the misclassification of workers.”    P.L. 2019, c. 367 , would assist the NJDOL in enforcing all of the above by permitting the Department of Treasury to share tax information including audit files, returns, and reports of any investigations.

 Finally, effective April 1, 2020, employers must conspicuously post notices within the workplace that explain the prohibition against misclassifying employees and contain information related to the standard by which an individual is determined to be an employee or independent contractor as well as the benefits, protections and remedies available to those who might have a claim related to misclassification. P.L. 2019, c. 375

Campanella Law Office continues to monitor the progress of all legislation aimed at worker misclassification and New Jersey’s anti-harassment laws.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns about how these new developments will impact your small business.

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