New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy signed a new law on March 20, 2020. The new Act, which was made effective immediately, comes in response to concerns over Covid-19 and unsafe working conditions. It is aimed at protecting the employment rights of workers who are or might be infected with the virus.
The Act, New Jersey Assembly Bill 3848, prevents retaliation against employees who take a leave due to Covid-19. It also provides remedies for aggrieved employees and outlines the process of filing a complaint.
Have you lost your job due to a Covid-19 related leave? Talk to an employment attorney in Newark, NJ, today to find out your legal options.
Protections Provided by the New Law
The Act prohibits an employer from terminating an employee who misses work because they have or likely have an infectious disease. It also prevents them from retaliating against or penalizing workers who have requested or taken protective leave.
Time off is considered protected leave when a certified New Jersey medical professional recommends it in written or electronic form. The recommendation should show that an employee has or is likely to have a contagious disease that may infect others at the workplace.
Upon the expiry of protected leave, the employer must reinstate the worker to their previous position with no reduction in status, seniority, pay, or benefits.
If the position was filled while the employee was on leave, they should be reinstated to an equivalent position with the same pay and status.
These protections remain effective during the ongoing Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency that was recently extended.
How Do You File a Complaint?
An aggrieved employee can file a complaint with the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The claim will be processed in the same manner as a claim for wages filed under N.J.S.A. 34:11-57 et seq.
The Act allows for these proceedings to be carried out remotely and with the use of technology. This includes video conferencing, telephone correspondence, and the provision of documents via text or email.
Following the filing of a complaint, a Wage Collection Referee will conduct a hearing during which the following may happen:
- Summoning of the employer.
- Witness subpoenaing.
- Administration of oaths.
- Collection of testimonies.
After the hearing, the Wage Collection Referee may then issue a decision and order appropriate remedies. Such remedies may include orders to reinstate the aggrieved employee and a $2,500 penalty against the employer for each violation of the Act.
Either party could appeal the decision of the Referee to the Superior Court within 20 days of the issuing of judgment.
The new Act uses the ABC test, which is the N.J.S.A. 43:21-19 Unemployment Compensation Law, to determine if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.
Consult a Newark Employment Attorney
Covid-19 is affecting many aspects of life, including employment. This new law is a significant step towards ensuring that the livelihood of American workers is protected throughout this pandemic. It is also an excellent way of addressing the effects of Covid-19 and unsafe working conditions.
If you have any questions about your employment rights in relation to covid-19, please contact the Law Office of Usmaan Sleemi at 973.327.7874 and talk to an expert employment attorney in Newark, NJ, today.