Labor & Employment Law Blog

Federal Court of Appeals Decides Compensability of Meal Periods

On November 24, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit -- the federal court with jurisdiction over New Jersey -- issued an opinion that impacts how and when employers must compensate employees for a meal period. Joining the majority of federal appellate courts, the Third Circuit specified that, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers must apply the “predominant benefit test” when deciding the compensability of a meal period. (Click here to read the opinion in Babcock v. Butler County.)

Jersey City Expands Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Jersey City’s mayor and council have amended the city’s paid sick leave ordinance, expanding the law’s mandates.  Originally passed in 2013, the city’s paid sick leave ordinance was the first in New Jersey to require employers to provide mandatory paid sick leave to their full-time employees.

Certain New York City Employers must Provide Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits

On January 1, 2016, New York City’s Affordable Transit Act will go into effect.  The Act requires employers with 20 or more full-time employees to offer its employees the opportunity to use pre-tax wages toward certain commuting expenses.  The Act defines a full-time employee as one who works on average 30 hours or more per week. 

New York City’s Fair Chance Act Effective Today

New York City’s Fair Chance Act (“FCA”) goes into effect today, October 27, 2015.  Under the FCA, most New York City employers with four or more employees are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background during the employment application process.  This new standard requires employers to extend a conditional offer of employment before inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history – an even more onerous standard than New Jersey’s Opportunity to Compete Act, which prohibits such inquiry only until after an initial interview.

New Jersey Employers Can Recover Payment of Disloyal Employee’s Salary

On September 22, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that when a court determines that an employee breached the duty of loyalty owed to his or her employer, the employer may recover from the employee the amount of his or her salary paid during the periods of disloyalty. In such an instance, the employer does not have to show that the employee’s breach caused the employer to suffer economic damages. 

President Obama Requires Federal Contractors to Provide Paid Sick Leave

On September 7, 2015, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring certain federal contractors to provide their employees with paid sick leave. Under the Order, employees working on federal contracts can earn seven paid sick days annually.

The Order guarantees both part- and full-time employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The contractor must allow its employees to accrue at least 56 hours of paid leave per year. Accrued but unused paid leave carries over from one year to the next without limit, but covered contractors are not required to pay the employee for accrued but unused sick leave upon separation of employment.

Jersey City Adopts Wage Theft Prevention Ordinance

The City of Jersey City recently enacted an ordinance designed to impose stricter penalties on businesses that engage in wage theft. The wage theft prevention ordinance allows the city to deny or suspend an employer’s Jersey City-issued business license if the employer is found liable of violating a wage and hour law and fails to cure the violation.

The ordinance defines “wage theft” as “having been found guilty, liable or responsible in any judicial or administrative proceeding for unpaid wages” in violation of any federal, state, or Jersey City law related to the payment of wages or the collection of debt owed due to unpaid wages.

Department of Labor Proposes New Overtime Rules

The United States Department of Labor ("DOL") recently proposed rules to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") in order to create new parameters for determining which employees are eligible for overtime pay.  If implemented, these rules would significantly expand the number of employees who are entitled to receive overtime pay, including employees that presently are not eligible to earn overtime pay as a result of being classified as exempt.

“Watchdog” Employees Are Allowed to Bring Whistleblower Claims in New Jersey

Yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme Court expanded employees’ rights to bring whistleblower claims against their employers.  In Lippman v. Ethicon, Inc., the court held that the Conscientious Employee Protection Act’s (“CEPA”) protections extend to the performance of regular job duties by so-called “watchdog” employees.

Under CEPA, employers are not permitted to take retaliatory action against an employee because the employee engages in a “whistleblowing” activity, meaning the employee: 

New York City Enacts “Ban the Box” Ordinance

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio recently signed into law the Fair Chance Act, prohibiting employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal background during the employment application process.  As described in last month’s alert, the law is dubbed “ban the box” legislation because employers are not permitted to include a check box on a job application inquiring about the applicant’s criminal history.