The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 requires all U.S. employers, regardless of size, to complete a Form I-9 upon hiring a new employee to work in the United States. This form serves to verify an employee’s identity and ability to work in the country.

On August 1, 2023, a new Form I-9 was released, which employers must begin to use no later than October 31, 2023. Additionally, employers that verified remote hires’ Form I-9 identity and work authorization documents virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic are required to physically inspect those documents by August 30, 2023. Failure to comply with Form I-9 requirements may result in civil and criminal fines and penalties. It is therefore critical that employers understand and implement Form I-9 requirements in accordance with these recently established deadlines as set forth herein.

Completing Form I-9

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In a recent published decision, Kennedy v. Weichert, the New Jersey Appellate Division addressed the proper classification of fully commissioned real estate salespeople as employees versus independent contractors. The court ruled that these individuals are not subject to the “ABC” test for purposes of determining their classification under the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (“WPL”).

The “ABC” Test:

Under the “ABC” test, workers are presumed to be employees unless the business can show that: (1) it neither exercised control over the worker nor had the ability to exercise control in terms of the completion of the work; (2) the services provided were either outside the usual course of business or performed outside of all the places of business of the enterprise; and (3) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently-established trade, occupation, profession or business. A business’s failure to satisfy any one of the three criteria results in the worker being classified as an “employee” for wage payment and wage and hour purposes.

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On March 16, 2022, the New Jersey Appellate Division concluded in Davis v. Disability Rights of New Jersey that a plaintiff-employee’s privacy interests in her social medial posts and personal cell phone bills did not restrict her employer’s right to the production of these records when defending against claims that the plaintiff’s termination violated New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (the “NJLAD”) and caused her to suffer emotional distress.  This decision is the first in New Jersey to detail the scope of discovery regarding a litigant’s private social media posts.

The Background

In Davis, the plaintiff filed a NJLAD complaint against her former employer alleging wrongful termination and emotional distress. In its discovery requests, the employer demanded that the plaintiff produce copies of all her social media content “concerning any emotion, sentiment or feeling of [p]laintiff, as well as events that could reasonably be expected to evoke an emotion, sentiment, or feeling.” The employer also sought the production of the plaintiff’s personal cell phone bills on the grounds that she had used her personal cell phone to perform work duties remotely.

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On February 22, 2023, the United States Supreme Court in Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt  held that a highly compensated executive employee paid a guaranteed daily rate is not paid on a ‘salary basis’ and therefore, is a nonexempt employee entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The decision should alert employers to review their classification of employees as exempt versus nonexempt to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state requirements.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

While the FLSA requires that most employees be paid overtime for work time in excess of 40 hours, it exempts several categories of positions from that requirement. The most common exemptions from overtime are referred to as the “white-collar exemptions,” which include executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, IT professionals, and highly compensated executive positions.

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On February 6, 2023, Governor Murphy signed new legislation into law significantly expanding the rights of temporary workers. The law, known as the “Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights” (A1474/S511), is aimed at advancing pay equity, increasing government oversight of temporary staffing agencies, and prohibiting retaliatory conduct against temporary workers. A1475/S511 applies to workers in designated classifications, including protective services, food preparation, construction labor and trade, personal care services, and building, grounds cleaning, and maintenance occupations. The range of protections afforded by the new law, as outlined below, are expansive and will have significant implications on staffing agencies as well as third-party clients who utilize these agencies to place temporary workers.

New Protections

Equal Pay and Benefits

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As previously advised New York City’s Pay Transparency Law (the “Transparency Law”) requiring most New York City employers to disclose salary ranges in their job postings, takes effect on November 1, 2022.  Guidance recently issued by the New York City Commission on Civil Rights (the “Commission”) gives further insight into the employer requirements of this new law.

Under the Transparency Law, employers with four or more employees or one or more domestic workers, must include a good faith minimum and maximum salary range in all job advertisements, promotions, and transfer opportunities for work to be performed in New York City.

Job advertisements for temporary employment at a temporary help firm, such as a staffing agency, are specifically exempted from these disclosure requirements.

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On September 6, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) addressing the standard for determining joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. Under the proposed rule, two or more employers would be considered joint employers if they “share or codetermine those matters governing employees’ essential terms and conditions of employment.” If finalized, the rule would explicitly rescind the NLRB’s most recent overhaul of the joint employer standard that raised the bar to attain joint employer status and will undoubtedly result in many more joint employer situations.

The Joint Employer Standard’s Seesaw History

Over the past decade, joint employer status has been gone back and forth dramatically as the composition and political control of the Board has shifted.

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The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) recently adopted new and amended regulations concerning the “Display of Official Posters of the Division on Civil Rights.” Under these regulations, covered employers must display revised posters advising employees of their rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“FLA”). Both the LAD and FLA posters must be printed on 8 ½” by 11″ paper (or larger) and contain text that is fully legible. The official posters can be found on the DCR’s website located here and here. Employers should immediately replace their now outdated LAD and FLA posters with the updated ones.

New electronic posting option: The new regulations now expressly allow employers to satisfy the posting requirement by displaying posters electronically on an internet or intranet site accessible to all employees. Additionally, the new regulations require employers to distribute the updated posters annually on or before December 31st and upon an employee’s first request.

Additional posting requirements: As a reminder, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development also requires employers to display posters regarding child labor, workers’ compensation, wage and hour rules, payment of wages, unemployment insurance, temporary disability benefits, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), family leave insurance, records, the SAFE Act (if you have 20 or more employees), gender equity (if you have 50 or more employees), paid sick leave, and worker misclassification.

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New Jersey has one of the most comprehensive statutes protecting employees against discrimination in the workplace. On October 5, 2021, Governor Murphy signed legislation expanding these protections even further by amending New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) to prohibit private-sector employers from discriminating against employees over the age of 70. Specifically, the legislation eliminates a provision of the NJLAD that previously permitted employers to refuse to hire or promote workers over the age of 70. It further expands the remedies available to an employee who is forced to retire due to age.

History of the NJLAD

The NJLAD, originally enacted in 1945, prohibits an employer from refusing to hire or employ, fire, or otherwise discriminate against an individual in compensation or other terms, conditions or privileges of employment based on the individual’s protected status. While not included in the original list of protected classes, in 1962 the NJLAD was amended to recognize age as a protected status. In 1985, the NJLAD was amended again to clarify that while employers were prohibited from terminating or demoting employees based on their age, they were nonetheless allowed to “refus[e] to accept employment or to promote any person over 70 years of age.” The 1985 amendment also limited the remedies available to employees forced to retire as a result of age to back pay only. While New Jersey continued to broaden the NJLAD and expand protections to a number of groups over the following years, the limited protections against age discrimination were never modified, thereby placing it on separate, inferior footing to the State’s other protected categories.

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Since early 2020, New Jersey has passed a series of legislation aimed at identifying and penalizing businesses for misclassification of employees as independent contractors. On July 8, 2021, New Jersey enacted A5890, which empowers the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (“DOL”) to issue broad stop-work orders to employers in violation of wage and hour laws that extend across “all of the employer’s worksites and places of business.” As set forth more fully below, we are beginning to see the DOL invoking this extraordinary power to effectively shut down an employer’s business in its entirety.

A5890 Stop-Work Orders and Injunctions

Prior to the passage of this bill, the Commissioner’s shut-down orders could only extend to the specific location where the wage and hour violation occurred. Under A5890, however, the Commissioner may now issue stop-work orders that extend across “all of the employer’s worksites and places of business.” Moreover, these stop-work orders can remain in effect until the Commissioner determines that the employer is compliant and has paid any penalties due. Employers must pay workers affected by a stop-work order for the first ten days of work lost due to the order, and the DOL can impose up to $5,000 in civil penalties for each day the employer continues to operate the business in violation of the stop-work order.

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