Maxine Neuhauser, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Newark office, was quoted in The Washington Post, in “New Jersey Could Soon Become the Nation’s First State to Mandate Severance for Employees in Mass Layoffs,” by Jena McGregor.

Following is an excerpt:

New Jersey state lawmakers approved a bill Monday that would compel employers to give more notice and pay severance to laid-off workers, after a public backlash against the treatment of workers who lost their jobs in the retail apocalypse.

The bill, which has been called the “Toys R Us bill” for workers of the retail chain that filed for bankruptcy in 2017, requires larger employers to pay workers one week of severance for each year of service. It also gives employees 90 days’ notice, rather than just 60 days, in the event of a mass layoff. It was approved 55-21.

“When businesses go bankrupt or close, far too often, workers are given little notice or severance pay. We saw this happen right here in New Jersey last year when Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy,” lawmaker Annette Quijano (D), a primary sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Employees deserve to be treated fairly, especially when they are forced to leave a job due to circumstances beyond their control.”

The bill, which only applies to employers with 100 or more full- or part-time workers laying off 50 or more people, was approved by the state’s Senate in December. It now goes to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy (D). …

Employment lawyers say the bill could have broad consequences. …

Maxine Neuhauser, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in Newark, said nonprofit employers could be in a bind if they suddenly lose out on government grants or funding. “My nonprofit clients are really concerned,” she said. “These are not folks who are being driven into bankruptcy by private equity companies. These are organizations trying to do good work.” Neuhauser said there are also questions about how the bill would interplay with bankruptcy law. …

Yet some employment lawyers say the bill has a chance of getting picked up elsewhere. “A lot of these employee protective laws are gaining traction,” said Neuhauser, pointing to paid sick leave and bans on salary history questions that have spread across several states. “They start to snowball. Do I think a law here has potential for being enacted in another state? My answer would be sure.”


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