On March 17, 2014, a bill (S1717) was introduced that would prohibit an employer from taking adverse action against an employee because he or she is not working due to a declared state of emergency (by the Governor or municipal emergency management coordinator). It also would prohibit employers from requiring employees to use their accrued paid or unpaid leave for such time. Employers that violate this new law would be subjected to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for the first violation, and up to $10,000 for the second violation; there is no private cause of action for violations. Employees absent due to a state of emergency would need to make every effort to notify their employers about their absence, and would be required to return to work as soon as possible (i.e., no later than the first scheduled shift or hour after the state of emergency is rescinded, accounting for travel time).
Note: This article was published in the March 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.