On March 18, 2019, Governor Murphy officially signed S-121 into law that makes any provision in an employment which waives any substantive or procedural right of an employee unenforceable as against New Jersey public policy. Under the new law, New Jersey employers will no longer be able to conceal the underlying details of sexual harassment and other claims of discrimination through the use of non-disclosure or confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements. The new Non-Disclosure law also protects employees from being retaliated against for not entering into any agreement or contract that requires them to waive their substantive or procedural rights.
The Non-Disclosure bill will apply to all workplace discrimination claims alleged or brought under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of protected traits such as gender, disability, race, national origin and other protected classes of people. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who oppose discrimination or participate in harassment investigations. Finally, it makes employers responsible for the harm caused to employees who are forced to work in a hostile work environment.
The Non-Disclosure bill is being touted a significant win for New Jersey employees’ rights and the #MeToo movement. The law was sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Nia Gill an Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle, John F. McKeon and Jon M. Brammick. The law will not be administered retroactively. Instead, it will only apply to employment contracts that are entered into, renewed, modified or amended on or after the law’s March 18, 2019 effective date. This means any contract to arbitrate or settlement agreement requiring the underlying claims of lawsuit to be confidential signed before March 18, 2019 can still be enforced by an employer against an employee.