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Employment Laws in New Jersey

Filed under Office & HR.

Employers in New Jersey must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employee does not include an individual employed in the domestic service of another.

Employer includes all business entities.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate in hiring or employment practices, including compensation, on the basis of an individual's:

  • race
  • creed
  • color
  • national origin
  • ancestry
  • age (under 70)
  • marital status
  • domestic partnership status
  • affectional or sexual orientation
  • gender identity or expression
  • sex
  • genetic information (including the refusal to submit to a genetic test or make available the results of a genetic test to an employer)
  • disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait
  • because of the liability for service in the armed forces of the United States
  • because a person uses a guide or service dog
  • because a person refuses to participate in and/or discloses fraudulent or criminal employer actions

Autism spectrum disorders. A developmental disability includes autism spectrum disorders.

Religious practices and observances. It is unlawful for employers to impose upon a person as a condition of obtaining or retaining employment, including opportunities for promotion, advancement or transfers, any terms or conditions that would require a person to violate or forgo a sincerely held religious practice or religious observance, including but not limited to the observance of any particular day or days or any portion of a day as a Sabbath or other holy day in accordance with the requirements of the religion or religious belief, unless it is an undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business.

An accommodation is considered an undue hardship under the law if it will lead to the employee's inability to perform the essential functions of his or her position. Under New Jersey law, workers who take time off for religious reasons would be expected to make up the time or work or take paid leave other than sick leave. Otherwise an employer may treat the time off as unpaid leave.

The New Jersey Civil Rights Act. The New Jersey Civil Rights Act supplements the New Jersey Law against discrimination.

The Domestic Partnership Act. The Domestic Partnership Act prohibits employment discrimination based on domestic partnership status.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that every statutory right and benefit conferred to heterosexual couples through civil marriage must be made available to committed same-sex couples. New Jersey's marriage statute includes same-sex couples and same-sex couples have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples who choose to marry.

Same-sex marriage. A court ruling held that the ban against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and the prohibition is lifted effective October 21, 2013.

Patient Safety Act. The Patient Safety Act provides that materials received by the Departments of Health and Human Services under the law may not be used to make an adverse employment decision about a health care professional. However, it does not prevent disciplinary action against the individual when recklessness, gross negligence or willful misconduct is involved.

Smoking and use of tobacco products. An employer can not refuse to hire or employ any person or discharge from employment or take any adverse action against any employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or other privileges of employment because that person does or does not smoke or use other tobacco products, unless the employer has a rational basis for doing so which is reasonably related to the employment, including the responsibilities of the employee or prospective employee.

Worker Freedom From Employer Intimidation Act. The New Jersey Worker Freedom from Employer Intimidation Act prohibits employers from requiring its employees to attend an employer-sponsored meeting when the purpose of the meeting is to communicate the employer's opinion about religious or political matters.

Cord blood donation. Certain hospital workers who believe that blood transfer is contrary to the moral principles that their denomination considers to be an essential part of its beliefs and practices are exempt from the state's cord blood donation law.

Emergency responders. The Emergency Responders Employment Protection Act provides employment protections to volunteers responding to emergency alarms in certain cases. An employer cannot terminate, dismiss or suspend an employee who fails to report for work at his or her place of employment because he or she is serving as a volunteer emergency responder during a state of emergency declared by the President of the United States or the Governor of New Jersey, or is actively engaged in responding to an emergency alarm.

Employment status. Discrimination based on employment status is prohibited, including the provision in print and online job advertisements that current employment is a required job qualification.

Gender pay equity notice. Effective November 19, 2012, employers of 50 or more must provide employees with a gender equality and equal compensation anti-discrimination notice. Proof of delivery to each employee with the employee's signature on the notice is required. The notice must be presented at the end of each year and anytime it is requested by an employee. The law also requires employers with 50 or more employees to conspicuously post notification of gender pay equity in a place or places accessible to workers in each of the employer’s workplaces. Compliance with the posting and distribution rules is not required until the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development issues the form of notification by regulation.

Electronic media account access. Employers are prohibited from requiring applicants and employees to provide access to social media accounts.

Effective December 1, 2013, employers are prohibited from requiring employees and job applicants to disclose user names, passwords, or other means for accessing accounts or service through electronic communications devices.

Compensation information. Employers cannot retaliate against an employee for requesting from current or former employees information about their job title and compensation, including pay rate and benefits, subject to certain conditions.

Domestic and sexual violence victims. Harassment of and retaliation against employees who have taken or requested leave under the New Jersey law providing unpaid leave for employees or their family members who are victims of a domestic violence incident or a sexually violent offense (effective October 1, 2013) is prohibited.

Recordkeeping/Posting Requirements

Employers covered by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination shall display the official poster of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights in places easily visible to all employees and applicants for employment.

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