With the eyes of Capitol Hill squarely focused on the Senate impeachment proceedings, we turn this week’s edition of Policy Matters to the states, where labor and employment-related legislative and regulatory activity continues at a steady pace.

New Jersey Re-Writes Mass Layoff Laws. Earlier this week, the Governor of New Jersey signed Senate Bill 3170, which creates dramatic changes in the state’s mass layoff law. Most notably, the new provisions would require severance in some circumstances, expands the definition of “employer,” and includes all part-time employees in the analysis. The law will be effective July 19, 2020. For more details, see Seyfarth’s Legal Update

And Increases Penalties for Misuse of Independent Contractors. This week was a busy one for New Jersey legislative activity. In addition to the mass layoff re-write above, six bills were signed into law that impose penalties against employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors. For specific information, see Seyfarth’s Legal Update.

New York to Explore Gig Economy Issues. As part of his FY2021 Executive Budget, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo identified “protect[ion of] workers in the gig economy” as part of his workplace enforcement agenda. He has called for the creation of a gig worker task force, with a deadline of May 1 before the New York Department of Labor will start working on regulations. Gov. Cuomo also identified “ensuring justice for victims of wage theft,” “strengthened protections against union busting,” and “nation-leading paid sick leave” as priority issues.

New York Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Salary History Ban. The New York Labor Department issued guidance on the salary history ban that went into effect on January 6, 2020. The guidance provides some needed clarification as to the scope of the law and the permissible activities (with respect to prospective and current employees). For more, see Seyfarth’s Legal Update.

Virginia Legislature Votes to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Passed by Congress in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment failed to obtain the required ratification of 38 state legislatures by the deadline of 1982. This week, Virginia’s recently reconstituted legislature voted to ratify the ERA. Since 1982, two additional states have approved the amendment, and five have rescinded it. Expect this issue to visit the Supreme Court at some point in its future.