New Jersey News & Analysis

  • Are NJ courts going too far to nix arbitration agreements? Possible FAA collision ahead

    New Jersey Employment Law Letter readers will recognize a recurring theme in this discussion: our state courts' struggle to determine arbitration agreements' enforceability. A recent New Jersey Appellate Division decision struck a note in counterpoint to the theme by reversing a trial court's order that had compelled arbitration of a former employee's New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) claims.

  • How to claim paid family and medical leave tax credit

    The tax reform law passed late last year contained a little-noticed tax credit for employers that provide employees paid "family and medical" leave and meet certain other requirements. While the IRS hasn't finalized regulations pinning down the specifics of the new credit, it recently issued some helpful guidance. Let's take a look.

  • Can you keep a secret? How to handle 'confidential' employee complaints

    The #MeToo movement just turned one. And while its long-term effects on the workplace remain to be seen, it's commonly expected that increasing numbers of women (and some men) will be informing their employers about problems with sexual harassment.

  • Agency Action

    DOL launches initiative to strengthen H-2B compliance. The U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in September announced a nationwide initiative to strengthen compliance with the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program in the landscaping industry. The initiative includes providing compliance assistance tools and information to employers and stakeholders as well as conducting investigations of employers using the program. The WHD announced that last year, its investigations led to more than $105 million in back wages for more than 97,000 workers in industries with a high prevalence of H-2B workers, including the landscaping industry. A key component of the investigations is ensuring that employers recruit U.S. workers before applying for permission to employ temporary nonimmigrant workers. The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant workers from outside the United States to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the country. The landscaping industry employs more H-2B workers than any other indus

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey shows attitudes about talking politics at work. Job search platform Indeed in September reported results of a survey of 2,000 U.S. employees showing that 20% of those workers felt the workplace wasn't politically censored enough. The research also showed that 54% were comfortable with the current amount of sharing of political beliefs at work. Just 10% of respondents said they believed the workplace needed more political talk. The survey found that 23% of the respondents felt certain groups were being silenced at work. Of those, 60% reported that the source of silencing was statements or actions of peers, and 40% said it came from statements or actions from leadership.

  • Don't forget to properly classify independent contractors

    You likely recall a time not so long ago when the improper classification of employees as independent contractors was the hot topic for the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In 2011, the agencies entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding" in which they agreed to share information about potential misclassifications in an effort to crack down on the common practice. The DOL also entered into similar agreements with roughly 30 state departments of labor.

  • DOL issues FMLA opinion letters after a long break

    For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has issued opinion letters interpreting the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This may be a sign that the Trump administration intends to rely heavily on opinion letters as a form of guidance for employers, a practice that had been discarded by the Obama administration.

  • Agency Action

    OFCCP releases directives on equal employment and religious freedom. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in August issued two new policy directives, one focused on equal employment opportunity and the other addressing religious freedom. The equal employment opportunity directive calls for more comprehensive reviews of contractor compliance with federal antidiscrimination laws. The religious freedom directive is aimed at protecting the rights of religion-exercising organizations. The DOL said it is implementing a comprehensive compliance initiative that will include adding focused reviews to its compliance activities. The religious freedom directive instructs OFCCP staff to take into account recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and White House Executive Orders that protect religious freedom.

  • Workplace Trends

    Salary increases expected to remain flat. Research from workforce consulting firm Mercer shows salary increase budgets for U.S. employees are at 2.8% in 2018—no change from 2017. Salary increase budgets for 2019 are projected to be just 2.9%, despite factors like the tightening labor market and a high rate of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. The information comes from Mercer's "2018/2019 US Compensation Planning Survey." Mercer's research shows that even newly available investment dollars from the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aren't enhancing the compensation budgets for most companies. Mercer says just 4% of organizations have redirected some of their anticipated tax savings to their salary increase budgets.

  • The end of the Kennedy era

    For the past 20 years, Anthony Kennedy has decided the most important issues in America. An early protégé of Justice Antonin Scalia, Kennedy was appointed by Ronald Reagan as a conservative choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. At first, he voted with the conservative bloc more than 90 percent of the time and remained solidly conservative on criminal justice issues throughout his judicial tenure.