Governor Corzine recently signed the improbably (and inelegantly) named Worker Freedom from Employer Intimidation Act. The goal of the statute is more limited than the title suggests: to prevent employees from being strong-armed to participate in employer-sponsored political and religious events and communications. (There are limited exceptions for political and religious organizations.)
Here's a summary of the provisions of the new law.
1. As with most NJ employment statutes, size does not count. An “employer” is any business that has at least one employee.
2. The core provision:
“No employer . . . may, except as provided in section 3 of this act, require its employees to attend an employer-sponsored meeting or participate in any communications with the employer . . . to communicate the employer's opinion about religious or political matters.“
3. Employers may not retaliate against workers who report suspected violations of the act.
4. A civil cause of action is specifically authorized for aggrieved employees to recover compenstaory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. However, actions under the Act must be brought within a very short 90 day statute of limitations. This affords employers some protection, and makes it incumbent upon employees to know and act upon their rights without delay.
5. The legal remedy provided by the Act is in addition the employee's other legal protections, such as an action for wrongful termination.
Think what you may of the law itself, couldn't they have come up with a better name? Who's in charge of the bill-naming office in Trenton these days? Just what are we going to call this thing if we don't want to take all day to do it? The WFFEIA? Some help is needed here. Let us know if you have an idea.