(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon barring provisions in employment contracts or settlement agreement that waive rights or remedies as well as barring the agreements that conceal details relating to discrimination claims was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee on Thursday.
The bill (A-1242) would create a provision in any employment contract that waives any substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment would be deemed against public policy and unenforceable.
“Our workers need to be protected, plain and simple,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This bill will help to give the rights that are deserved to our employees as well as add a layer of protection in their contracts, creating a more contented workplace.”
Under the bill, a person who enforces or attempts to enforce a provision deemed against public policy and is unenforceable would be liable for the employees’ reasonably attorney fees and costs.
The measure states that no person can take any retaliatory action, including but not limited to failure to hire, discharge, suspension, demotion, discrimination in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or other adverse action against a person, on grounds that the person does not enter into an agreement or contract that contains a provision deemed against public policy and unenforceable pursuant to the bill. If the employee publicly reveals sufficient details of the claim so that the employer is reasonably identifiable, the provision will also be unenforceable against the employer.
Any person claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of the bill may initiate suit in Superior Court, noted the sponsor. An action would be required to be commenced within two years after the cause of any such action. All remedies available in common law actions would be available to prevailing plaintiffs, in addition to the remedies provided by the bill.
The provisions of the bill would not apply to the terms of any collective bargaining agreement between an employer and the collective bargaining representative of the employees. The bill would take effect immediately and apply to all contracts and agreements entered into, renewed, modified, or amended on or after the effective date.