Employment contract provisions that reduce the statute of limitations for filing suit against employers, such as claims for discrimination, were banned by the New Jersey Supreme Court on June 15, 2016. In Rodriguez v. Raymour & Flanigan, the Court made clear that New Jersey‘s anti discrimination laws cannot be circumvented by private agreements.
In Rodriguez, plaintiff employee applied for a job with Raymour & Flanigan. The last page of the job application, which the employee signed, after being advised to read it carefully, stated that the employee agreed that any claim or lawsuit filed by the employee against the company, had to be filed within 6 months of the date of the improper employment action. Plaintiff employee filed suit against Raymour & Flanigan, outside of the six month period noted in the employment agreement, claiming that he was wrongfully discharged after sustaining a knee injury and filing a worker’s compensation action.
The New Jersey Supreme Court held that a private employment agreement that frustrates New Jersey’s anti discrimination laws, by shortening the two-year statute of limitations period, cannot be enforced. While New Jersey law recognizes that individuals can contract to waive certain rights, it is unfair to condone agreements that thwart and undermine New Jersey’s legislative scheme to eradicate discrimination from the workplace.
Employment agreements are currently under attack by New Jersey and other states which have been limiting the enforceability of certain provisions in employment contracts that affect an employee’s substantive rights. It is vital that when presenting an employee with a written contract, that it be tailored to the employee and updated by a professional to ensure it complies with the law.