On November 13, 2008, the Assembly Judiciary Committee reported favorably on Assembly Bill (A2292) which would amend the Law Against Discrimination in a variety of significant ways, including:
- Prohibiting an employer from requiring as a condition of employment that an employee waive his/her right to a trial by jury or modify a statute of limitations (This would bar enforceability of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements for employees in New Jersey, although an argument could be made that such a law would be unenforceable as preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act);
- Prohibiting “English-only” rules in the workplace, unless both of the following conditions exist: (a) the language restriction is justified by a business necessity; and (b) the employer has notified its employees of the circumstances and the time when the language restriction is required to be observed and of the consequences for violating the language restriction;
- Making it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire, employ or discharge any person on the basis of that person’s “familial status;”
- Prohibiting employers from discriminating against “independent contractors;” and
- Requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Employers should note that there is still an opportunity for changes to be made in this important bill before it ultimately gets voted on by the Assembly.