How Do New Jersey Employment Laws Protect Remote Workers?
Posted November 9th, 2023.
Whether remote or onsite, all workers have rights protected under both state and federal law. Laws regarding disability accessibility, sexual harassment, and religious rights often cover both remote and onsite workers. The difficulty often lies in which state law applies in a case with an employee in one state and an employer in another. New Jersey federal appellate and district courts have answered this fairly conclusively. Read on to learn more about remote worker employment rights in New Jersey, and get in touch with a Cherry Hill employment law attorney if you have questions or concerns about how remote work laws affect you.
Remote Worker Employment Rights in New Jersey | What to Know
First Round: Calabotta
The question first came up in Calabotta v. Phibro Animal Health Corp. (2019). There, the plaintiff was an employee formerly based in Illinois, who sued his employer based in New Jersey. The plaintiff argued that his employer unfairly ignored (and later fired) him when it came time to decide on promotions.
The Calabotta court argued that if we have a New Jersey-based company and New Jersey-based executives making discriminatory decisions, then this should count as workplace discrimination taking place in New Jersey. The holding focused on conduct that happened in New Jersey. Hence New Jersey protections extended to remote workers regardless of whether they lived, in relation to New Jersey employers.
Emphasizing the Point: Schulman
A total of four states were wrapped up in Schulman v. Zoetis, Inc. et al. (2023): New Hampshire, Utah, Delaware, and New Jersey—plaintiff in New Hampshire, plaintiff’s supervisor in Utah, employer incorporated in Delaware, and company headquartered in New Jersey.
In Schulman, the plaintiff asserted a few different claims. Under state law, she argued her employer committed gender discrimination and violated the equal pay provision of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).
The District Court acknowledged that the state Supreme Court hadn’t yet weighed in on whether the NJLAD applied to out-of-state remote workers, and so relied on appellate decisions like Calabotta to conclude that workplace discrimination happened in the state if a New Jersey employer was involved.
First, courts in New Jersey compare the relevant laws of the different states involved in a case. If there would be no difference in outcome, then New Jersey law prevails. If there would be a difference, as we see in Calabotta and Schulman, New Jersey courts try to determine what the legislative intent of the executive branch would be on the choice of which state law to uphold. If the first step doesn’t work, courts will then try to determine which state has the greatest relationship to the case at hand.