Now former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spared no expense on ink his last day in office when he signed over fifty bills into law covering a wide array of topics with far reaching impact on the state. Of equal importance are bills he chose not to sign, utilizing his “pocket veto” on over forty additional pieces of legislation that had made to his desk. By not acting on these bills, he functionally vetoed them as they must now begin their journey to the Governor’s desk anew. The landscape of employment law did not escape change from the legislative landslide, as two new laws that New Jersey employers should be aware were passed.
The first, styled Senate, No. 3554 concerns new expansions in the requirements for background checks for employer entities that provide services to individuals with certain disabilities. The new law further requires inspections of these entities to insure compliance. The law forbids the Department of Human Services from entering into contracts with any entity that provides services to or has contact with those suffering from either developmental disabilities or brain injuries unless the contracting entity meets certain new background check benchmarks. Any employer wishing to contract with the Department for these types of services must conduct and certify background checks that none of their employees with access to these disabled individuals have criminal records for an array of stipulated crimes or offenses.
The second, Assembly, No. 492 is an employee-friendly law that protects the ownership rights to inventions of employees. Under this law, an invention made by an employee, created and developed entirely on the employee’s own time without the use of employer resources, is owned fully by the employee. The law further prohibits any provision in an employment contract that purports to give an employer some ownership or control over an employee’s invention. For those New Jersey employers in the technology and innovation business, this law will only permit control over the inventions of employees in the course of their business or using company resources.
While Governor Christie culminated his term with two final laws impacting employers in New Jersey, employers have much more to track in the coming months as a new Governor, who has already stated an intention to make several consequential changes to the state of employment law in New Jersey, comes to power.