NJBIA’s Government Affairs Team is working on the following labor legislation that is concerning to the business community.
Workers Compensation Medical Care – S-3375 (Singleton, D-7) is legislation concerning medical treatments for workers compensation claims, recently introduced and referred to the Senate Labor Committee. This bill would abolish the long–standing practice of allowing workers compensation insurance companies to manage the healthcare provided to an injured employee and would instead allow the employee to choose treatments for which the insurance company would be obligated to pay.
NJBIA is concerned that the elimination of these cost control measures, that have been proven to provide quality care at controlled costs, with oversight, would greatly increase the cost imposed on insurance companies, which costs would have to be borne by employers by way of increased premiums.
NJBIA has made the sponsor aware of our concerns as we work with our industry and business partners to inform policy makers on the benefits of the existing system.
Restrictive Covenants – On February 24, the Assembly Labor released A-1650 (Quijano, D-20; Moriarty, D-4), which would limit the use of restrictive covenants. NJBIA, along with a number of other business groups, testified in opposition to this legislation.
Restrictive covenants are an important tool in ensuring that former employees do not use access to confidential materials or customer lists to unfairly compete with a former employer after they have left employment. While such covenants can be overly broad and restrictive, the courts have employed sufficient standards to ensure that the covenants do not restrict fair competition, are protective of both the employer and employee, and are in the public interest.
NJBIA’s opposition to this bill is based on it being overly broad and punitive, effectively banning the use of any restrictive covenant in New Jersey. Without a means to protection intellectual property and customer lists when an employee leaves a business, many major companies may decide not to locate here or to relocate corporate offices. Even at lower levels, businesses can be harmed without allowing the appropriate use of these protections.
NJBIA is working with a coalition of business groups to work with the sponsor on reasonable amendments.
Sexual Harassment and Discrimination – NJBIA is continuing its advocacy to effectuate changes to S-3352 (Weinberg, D-37). This bill seeks to enhance training in the workplace to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination and to ensure that appropriate processes are in place to address complaints and to deal with violations.
While NJBIA is largely supportive of those provisions, we are very concerned with other provisions that would change the liability standards for employers as well as their rights to long standing defenses to liability. In particular, NJBIA objects to the elimination of the “severe or pervasive” standard for liability, thus subjecting employers to potential liability when an employee is merely offended by a remark made by another employee. Of equal concern is the elimination of essentially all defenses that an employer currently enjoys. Under existing law, an employer would not be liable if they took steps to prevent harassment or discrimination or took action to punish the offending conduct once they were made aware of it.
NJBIA is continuing to work with the sponsor to express our concerns and to seek amendments.