NJBIA opposed a series of bills before legislative committees on Wednesday that could lead to overzealous enforcement against employers who use independent contractors.
Bill S-3920/A-5890 is the most concerning for NJBIA as it enhances penalties for misclassification of employees under state laws that are often subject to different interpretations. It also allows for overbroad enforcement by the state Labor Commissioner with little oversight or control by the courts.
“We recognize the need for the state to enforce misclassification law against truly bad actors,” said NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor. “But businesses have legitimately relied on independent contractors for decades for everything from cleaning office buildings to hauling goods across the country. These bills will have a chilling effect on those business who do their level best to comply with the law.
“Under S-3920, the state Labor Commissioner can file a civil suit for an alleged injured person, rather than the person filing his or her own private suit. The Commissioner can enlist the use of private law firms to perform these suits, ostensibly putting the lure of profits over policy. It also expands stop-work orders to apply to all of a business’ locations, even if the other locations were not involved in the allegation.
“These are all broad overreaches of power that will only enhance New Jersey’s well-earned reputation of being unfriendly to business,” Cantor said.
NJBIA also opposed S-3921/A-5891, which would create and appropriate $1 million from the General Fund for an “Office of Strategic Enforcement and Compliance” within the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and S-3922/A-5892, which would streamline the identification of employee misclassification.
The Senate Labor Committee and Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to release the bills on Wednesday. The Assembly bills are scheduled to be voted on by the full Assembly on June 21.
To read Cantor’s written testimony to the Senate Labor Committee, click here.