The New Jersey Legislature is considering enacting a bill (S121) that makes any “provision in any employment contract that waives any substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment” against “public policy” and “unenforceable.”  The proposed bill also makes any “provision in any employment contract or agreement which has the purpose or effect of concealing the details relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment” against “public policy” and “unenforceable.”

Under the proposed bill, no right or remedy under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination “or any other statute or case law” could be prospectively waived.  The bill also prohibits “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.”

The proposed bill contains a two-year statute of limitations for plaintiffs/employees to file claims in the Superior Court of New Jersey.  A prevailing plaintiff/employee shall be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs under the proposed bill.  In addition, a prevailing plaintiff/employee is entitled to all available common law tort remedies as well as those provided under any other statute.  If enacted, this law will have significant potential ramifications for both employers and employees.  This proposed bill is obviously a positive development for employees as they will be afforded additional protections. On the other hand, employers should be monitoring this bill and should update their agreements accordingly if the legislation is enacted.

If you have any questions about this proposed bill, employment agreements, or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, please contact the Law Office of Frank A. Custode, LLC.