Employment Law in New Jersey


Employment and Labor Laws

Employment and labor laws in New Jersey focus upon the rights of the worker, which includes protections against workplace harassment, discrimination, unsafe conditions, privacy, wages and benefits, and more.  Although New Jersey coheres with federal law in certain areas such as military leave and overtime pay, the state breaks with federal statutes on several issues such as a higher minimum wage and paid family leave insurance.  While New Jersey employment law helps define the relationship between the employee and his/her employer within the state, it is still incumbent on an employer to adhere to federal law unless the state declares otherwise.  In order to protect yourself from hazards in the workplace, it is always beneficial to know your rights as an employee.

State and Federal Laws Agree

Contrary to many people’s opinion, neither the state nor the federal government requires an employer to compensate an employee for time spent on jury duty.  An employer cannot, however, terminate or harass in any way an employee called to serve on a jury. 

In addition, on both the state and federal level, employees are permitted to discuss issues such as compensation with colleagues or former colleagues without reprisal in an effort to determine whether pay discrimination exists.

One instance in which the federal government has given states leeway concerns “at will” employment policies.  Since the government allowed states to adopt such policies, every state apart from Montana has complied.  As a result, New Jersey is considered an “employment at will” state.  In other words, an employer can discharge an employee at any time for any reason whatsoever.  Indeed, they need not show a reason or cause for the discharge.  While there is no federal provision mandating companies to give any type of notification of termination, an employee cannot be terminated for an unlawful reason.  

Updates to Existing Regulation

In any case, both employers and employees need to keep a lookout for updates to commonly accepted laws.  Notably, New Jersey used to to follow federal guidelines by not requiring private employers to provide sick leave, whether paid or not.  Nevertheless, some towns and municipalities counteracted this legislation by requiring local employers to offer paid sick leave.  In October of 2018, however, a new law went into effect mandating all New Jersey employers to arrange for up to forty hours of paid sick leave annually.  With this change, New Jersey is now the tenth state along with Washington D.C. to endorse compulsory paid sick leave.

As a rule, the statute which confers the most benefits upon the individual will apply in most cases where there is an intersection among federal, state, and even local laws.  As discussed here, laws are not static.  Even in instances where state and federal governments have traditionally been aligned, new laws may be enacted which change the legal landscape.  Due to the complexity of navigating between federal, state, and, in some cases, local municipalities, it is always recommended to speak with a qualified labor attorney if you need clarity regarding employment law in New Jersey.