NJ Labor And Employment Law

The New Jersey Labor and Employment Law Blog is authored by Jay S. Becker and Joseph C. DeBlasio, shareholders in the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group, with support from the associates in the Group. It is dedicated to provide news and updates regarding all labor and employment matters throughout New Jersey.

Vaccinations Will Be Available Soon….Can NJ Employers Require Them?

January 8, 2021
Posted by Ari Burd

In accordance with recent guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers may require their employees be vaccinated, subject to some limited exceptions.  Specifically, employers may not require vaccinations for those employees who have a disability or medical condition (including pregnancy) that makes vaccination a health risk or who have objections due to their religious beliefs (i.e. Christian Scientists).

Of course if employers choose to implement such requirements and the employee refuses, there are numerous landmines to avoid.  For example, maintaining the privacy of employees who refuse for medical reasons, considering reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot be vaccinated, etc.  We strongly suggest any employer considering mandatory vaccinations have in place a policy on the subject that covers all such contingencies.  For help preparing these policies, please contact Ari BurdJeri Abrams or Jay Becker of the GHC Labor and Employment Department.

CDC & NJ Update Guidance Regarding Quarantine Periods

December 7, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

The CDC has issued updated guidance that reduces the suggested quarantine period down from 14 days to between 7-10 days following a COVID exposure. New Jersey has followed suit, amending their guidance as well with regard to the quarantine period for individuals travelling to any location outside of the immediate region (NY/NJ/CT/PA/DE). New Jersey’s new guidance is now as follows:

• If travelers test negative following travel, they should quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
• If testing is not available (or if the results are delayed), travelers should quarantine for 10 days after travel.

New Jersey employers should feel free to similarly adjust their quarantine periods in the work place for individuals who are exposed and can get tested. Employees should be allowed to return after 7 days with a negative test (testing should take place no earlier than 5 days after exposure). Those who are exposed and are not tested should quarantine for 10 days and can return if they have no symptoms. Notably, these new guidelines have drawn criticism from health experts who note that the reduction in the quarantine period is not due to new medical evidence, but rather, appears to be based on the belief that by reducing the quarantine periods, individuals will be more likely to quarantine. Please contact Ari Burd, Jeri Abrams and Jay Becker of the Giordano Labor and Employment department for additional information.

NJ Issues Specific COVID-19 Regulations for All Employers and Businesses

October 29, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

Given rapidly rising COVID rates in NJ (and national rates being at an all-time high) Executive Order 192 (“EO 192”), issued by Gov. Murphy on October 28th sets forth specific requirements for all employers in New Jersey, regardless of size, including private and public employers. If you have been following the guidance from our office, few, if any of these rules should come as any surprise. EO 192 requires:

  • Six feet of distance between individuals at a worksite to the maximum extent possible. When not possible, employers have a duty to ensure masks and physical barriers are provided.
  • Face masks should be worn whenever possible, except where the individual is under the age of two, the individual is eating or drinking, or the services being performed prevents wearing a mask.
    • Employees may remove masks when they are at least six feet apart or alone in a walled office.
    • Employees who refuse to wear face masks can be barred from the worksite until such time as they have provided medical documentation supporting their claim they are medically unable to wear a face mask.
    • Customers who refuse to wear a mask cannot be required to produce medical proof that they are unable to wear a mask. However, they may be denied entry if a reasonable accommodation can be provided (i.e. deliver the goods to their car).
  • Employers, at their own expense, must make masks available to their employees.
  • Employers must make hand sanitizer available at their expense to employees and customers.
  • Employers should:
    • Ensure there are adequate handwashing facilities, should ensure employees are washing hands and have adequate break time to do so.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect high touch areas.
    • Conduct daily health checks (i.e. temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, etc.).
      Immediately send home employees with symptoms of COVID-19 (subject to making sure the employee is capable of traveling home).
    • Promptly notify employees of all known exposures of COVID-19 at the worksite.

Other than requiring that face masks and hand sanitizer be made available (which many employers have already been doing), none of these rules should be seen as a change from standard COVID related advice that has been provided to employers for the last several months. Employers are reminded to stay vigilant and it is strongly recommended that COVID-19/Pandemic policies be put in place. For assistance with COVID related issues and policies, please contact Ari Burd, Jeri Abrams or Jay Becker of the GHC Labor and Employment Department.

Policies and Procedures for Re-Opening of Businesses

June 10, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

As New Jersey begins to slowly re-open and return to normal, it will be more important than ever to make sure your business has proper policies in place. While we expect that guidance will continue to evolve as more is learned about COVID-19, we recommend that all employers begin to put policies in place to deal with re-opening issues, infectious disease protocols and social distancing. For assistance with the creation and implementation of these policies, please contact Ari Burd, Jeri Abrams or Jay Becker of the Labor and Employment Law Department of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla.

Governor Murphy Announces Partial Re-Opening For Non-Essential Businesses

May 13, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

As of Monday,  May 18th, all non-essential construction may re-start and non-essential retail businesses may re-open for delivery, curbside pickup, phone and online orders.  The physical store must still remain closed to customers.

Employers may immediately require the return of employees to begin preparing the premises for re-opening, subject to appropriate safety precautions.  Although the State has not yet issued specific guidance for the precautions that must be taken, for more information on the re-opening of your business and best practices to follow, please contact Ari BurdJeri Abrams or Jay Becker of the Labor and Employment Law Department of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla.

PPP Update: What to Do When Employees Refuse to Return to Work

May 6, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

As has been widely reported, some employees are refusing to be re-hired because they make more money from unemployment.  Technically, refusing to accept work should disqualify these individuals from unemployment benefits.  Nevertheless, this has not stopped many employees from refusing re-hire offers.  This presents a problem for employers who have received their PPP money and are worried this will affect the forgiveness of their PPP loan.

On May 3rd, the Treasury Department issued guidance suggesting that so long as a good-faith, written offer to re-hire has been made by the employer and rejected by the employee, the rejected employee will be excluded from the forgiveness reduction calculation.  In other words, this scenario will not reduce PPP loan forgiveness.  Interestingly, the FAQ does not say anything about the employer being required to seek a replacement for the employee who has refused to be re-hired.   The full question and answer from the FAQ is listed below:

Question: Will a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?

Answer: No. As an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.

As always, the Labor and Employment Law Department of Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla stands ready to assist you.  Please contact Ari Burd, Jeri Abrams or Jay Becker with any questions.

Important Update From the Department of Labor Regarding FFCRA Sick Leave and Family Leave

April 1, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has just issued important new guidance regarding the use of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) paid sick leave and emergency paid family leave. This is the sick and family leave that must be offered by certain employers as of today, April 1st and for which employers will receive a credit at the end of the quarter.  The DOL’s guidance differs from what was previously expected based on the plain language of the law. Specifically, be aware that the DOL has taken the position that:

  1. Furloughed employees are NOT eligible for FFCRA sick leave or paid family leave, despite the fact that furloughed employees remain employed, on the payroll and eligible for health benefits;
  2. If a worksite is closed, preventing the employee from working, the employee is NOT eligible to use FFCRA sick leave or paid family leave; and
  3. The DOL has seemingly confirmed that FFCRA sick leave or paid family leave is not available simply because of an office closure due to an executive order, such as the orders we are currently experiencing in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

The full list of DOL questions/answers/guidance can be found here:

The new DOL issued poster that must go up in office re: COVID-19 is here:

If you have any questions, please contact Ari Burd, Jeri Abrams and Jay Becker at the Giordano Halleran and Ciesla Labor and Employment law department.

Forgivable “Paycheck Protection” Small Business Loans

March 30, 2020
Posted by Ari Burd

Co-Authored by Christopher Marino
Federally mandated paid sick leave and emergency paid family leave goes into effect on April 1st (originally April 2nd).  For many employers who are concerned about covering payroll costs moving forward, the CARES Act may provide significant relief via an expansion of the ability to obtain loans under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act.  This act was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020.   In short, it provides that if an employer maintains their employees through June 30, 2020, they can receive a loan that will be forgiven, in the amount spent on payroll, interest on mortgages, rent or utility payments during an 8 week period. Read more

EMPLOYER ALERT: Coronavirus ‘Work from Home’ Issues and Considerations

March 6, 2020
Posted by Jay S. Becker

By now we have all read plenty about the Coronavirus (Covid-19), such as where it originated, how much it has spread and how we can all try to avoid it.

But one of the more drastic steps being taken by businesses is to instruct some or all employees to work from home, a practice commonly referred to as WFH. How many businesses, though, are truly prepared for a large population of employees working from home?

Here are just a few questions and issues, in no particular order, that come to mind when considering a WFH population.

Equipment. Are the WFH employees properly equipped at home to do the job effectively? Do they have a company computer or laptop? High-speed and secure wi-fi? Proper spam filter/security to ensure a computer bug/virus is not spread throughout the corporate server? Security/fire wall/encryption to prevent a hack and to ensure confidentiality of business records? Proper setups for video conferencing/telepresence? Simple items like a scanner/printer, office equipment, etc.? Read more

EMPLOYERS BEWARE: $2.4M Jury Verdict Serves as a Reminder of the Duty Employers Owe to Their Employees

February 14, 2020
Posted by Jay S. Becker

A recent New Jersey Superior Court case involving PNC Bank as a defendant should serve as an eye-opening reminder to all employers that it has a duty to maintain a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, free from harassment, discrimination and any other tort or prohibited conduct. Notably, this duty to maintain a safe and healthy workplace not only applies to the eradication of wrongdoing by employees, but also affords protection to employees from improper acts of non-employees such as customers, clients, vendors, independent contractors, etc.

Following a jury trial in Essex County, PNC Bank was deemed liable in the amount of $2.4 million in damages, consisting of both back and front pay, as well as past and future emotional distress damages, awarded to a former employee who claimed she was the victim of a sexual assault/gender discrimination by a bank customer in 2013. The Plaintiff argued that the customer in question was known by the Bank to have groped and harassed others in the past, yet the Bank did not take the appropriate, remedial measures to ensure her safety and prevent it from happening again.

Although the Bank claims that it had no such knowledge of the prior bad acts of the customer and had no way of knowing any such assault would occur towards the Plaintiff, the jury clearly did not accept that defense.

This case is yet another example on how important it is to have a well-established and widely distributed anti-harassment and discrimination policy and training for all staff in the workplace, applicable to all those susceptible to harassment or discrimination in the workplace, whether it be by fellow employees or otherwise, such as customers or guests.

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