In Our Community

Assemblywoman Mosquera Legislation to Support Victims of Violence and Abuse Passes Assembly Committee

In an effort to assist victims of violence and abuse, Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera sponsor legislation allowing local governments and organizations to partner with other agencies to establish family justice centers offering supportive services.

The bill (A-3156/S-1318) passed the Assembly Women and Children Committee on Monday and will now head to the Speaker for further consideration. Upon its passage, the sponsors released the following statements:

When someone has escaped a dangerous situation where they were the victim of assault, abuse or neglect, they often face an uphill battle in recovering from their ordeal. Being able to access helpful services such as professional healthcare and law enforcement support can make all the difference in their ability to recover. We owe it to survivors to do everything in our power to provide them with the resources they need to establish a better life for themselves.

Assemblyman Moriarty’s Bill to Stop Companies From Selling Consumer’s Phone Location Clears Assembly Committee

If you have a phone in your pocket, someone is tracking your location. For most of us, this is a helpful feature that allows us to get directions, order a ride, or find nearby restaurants. But according to a January 2019 VICE article, phone companies are selling your location data to unknown third parties. In some cases, live location tracking is ending up in the “hands of bounty hunters.” In other words, someone you don’t know could be tracking your location without your permission.

After he learned of this practice, Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty introduced legislation to ban phone companies from selling your location data and from disclosing the data to anyone without your consent.

“We trust our phone companies with our location, and it is unacceptable that they would turn around and sell it to the highest bidder,” Assemblyman Moriarty said. “Where you go and what you do is private information, no one should know it if you don’t want them to.”

Last Monday, Assemblyman Moriarty amended the bill (A-5259) to also prevent apps and websites from selling or disclosing your phone location without your permission. Now the bill must be considered for a vote by the General Assembly. Assemblyman Moriarty believes that this legislation should gain the full Legislature’s approval: “Tech companies continue to tell us that they will take better care of our data, but until now they haven’t – it’s time for legislation to make sure they do.”

 

Senator Madden Introduces Bills to Target Worker Misclassification

Senator Madden introduced several bills this month to target unscrupulous businesses that misclassify workers. Misclassification is the illegal practice of misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees. Businesses that misclassify their workers cheat them out of benefits including earned sick leave, Temporary Disability, Workers’ Compensation, Family Leave, and more. Further, the State loses millions in tax revenue each year that such businesses would otherwise be responsible for paying.

The bills, S4226, S4229, and S4230, are part of a multi-bill package and help to hold businesses accountable in several ways:

S4226 would allow the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (Commissioner) to maintain a list on its website of any person issued a final order for violation of State wage, benefit, or tax law. Such person would be given 15 business days of notice and would have the opportunity to request a hearing.

S4229 permits the Commissioner to issue a stop-work order against any employee found to be in violation of State wage, benefit, or tax law. The stop-work order would require the cessation of work at any site where a violation has been found. Work could only resume once the employer agrees to pay required wages and has paid any wages or any penalty owed. A civil penalty of $5,000 per day could be assessed against an employer that continues work in violation of a stop-work order. The bill also gives the Commissioner the authority to enter a workplace and inspect employer records.

Finally, S4239 would allow the Commissioner to assess penalties on violations of State wage, benefit, or tax law, including an administrative penalty of up to $250 for a first violation and up to $1,000 for each subsequent violation; and a penalty for the misclassified worker of not more the 5% of the worker’s gross earnings over the past 12 months. The money from the latter penalty would be given to the affected worker or workers.

 

Burzichelli, Mosquera, Pinkin & Quijano Bill to Expand Health Benefits For Volunteer First Responders Clears Assembly Panel

Volunteer firefighters and emergency responders would be eligible to receive health insurance coverage through a municipality’s “small employer” plan under legislation (A-1487) approved Monday by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

Bill sponsors Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem), Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester), Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex) and Annette Quijano (D-Union) released the following joint statement:

“Volunteer firefighters and emergency responders dedicate their lives to keeping their communities safe. In return, their community should offer health benefits to ease the burden on volunteers and their families. While municipalities are currently allowed to offer insurance coverage to volunteer first responders, provisions in “small employer” plans define eligible employees as those who work at least 25 hours per week, which excludes some volunteers. This legislation would resolve this conflict by making volunteer firefighters and emergency responders eligible for benefits under the small employer plan, which in turn will result in lower insurance rates for the municipality.”

Legislation to Guarantee Fertility Services For Patients Undergoing Certain Medical Treatments Passes Committee

In an effort to help preserve the ability of individuals to have children in the future when forced to undergo medically necessary treatment that may cause infertility, Assembly Democrat Gabriela Mosquera have introduced legislation that would require health insurance providers to cover fertility preservation services.

Under current law, health insurance companies are not required to cover fertility services for patients who require medical treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery that could directly or indirectly damage their reproductive system. The legislation (A-3150) would guarantee insurance coverage for standard services such as gonadal shielding and embryo cryopreservation for patients receiving necessary treatments that might cause infertility.

By taking steps to protect reproductive organs or preserve genetic material, these services would give men and women the chance to have a biological child in the future when they would otherwise run the risk of losing their ability to have a baby.

To ensure coverage for all impacted patients, the bill specifies that these services cannot be denied due to the insured person’s expected length of life, current or predicted disability, perceived quality of life or other health conditions and personal characteristics.

“As a mother, there is nothing in the world I value more than my children. Raising a child is such a rewarding experience,” said Assemblywoman Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “This legislation will ensure that no one who dreams of being a parent will be denied that opportunity if there is any way for them to do so, regardless of their current health problems.”

The bill passed the Assembly Women and Children Committee and will now go to the Speaker for further consideration.

Assembly Democrats Advance Six-Bill Package to Discourage Misclassification of Employees in NJ

Six measures approved Monday by the Assembly Labor Committee address the unlawful practice of improperly classifying workers as independent contractors, rather than as employees.

The legislation stems from recommendations made by the Governor’s Task Force on Employee Misclassification in July. According to the report, misclassification of employees by employers has increased 40 percent in the last ten years and has become a growing problem throughout the country.

Misclassification not only hurts workers and law-abiding businesses, it also hurts the State. Based on a 2000 U.S. Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) study of misclassification in construction in New Jersey referenced in the report, the failure to properly classify construction employees resulted in state income taxes not being paid for up to $11 million in off-the-books employment and nearly $9 million from employment of misclassified workers.

Assembly members Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson), Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester), Shanique Speight (D-Essex), Anthony Verrelli (Mercer, Hunterdon), Linda Carter (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union), and Clinton Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic), are sponsors of the bills in the package.

The legislation addresses the following concerns:

  • A-5838 (DeAngelo) Concerns stop-work orders related to Misclassification of Employees;
  • A-5842 (Chiaravalloti/Moriarty) Concerns tax data sharing between State Treasury and DOLWD;
  • A-5843 (Speight/Verrelli/Moriarty) Requires employers to post notice for employees on employee misclassification;
  • A-5839 (Moriarty/Verrelli/DeAngelo) Requires employer to pay misclassification penalties if found to have violated State wage, benefit, and tax laws;
  • A-5840 (Carter/Moriarty) Concerns joint liability for payment of employer tax law; and
  • A-5841 (Calabrese/Verrelli)) Creates a new list for employers found in violation.

The sponsors of the bill issued the following joint statement:

“Classifying workers as independent contractors as an alternative to full or part-time employment has been a grossly misused practice of misclassification.

“It hurts employees and their families who do not have access to critical benefits and protections they are entitled to by law, including minimum wage, overtime compensation, family and medical leave and unemployment insurance. It also hurts each of the taxpayers and businesses paying their fair share while others avoid their tax duties.

      “These measures will work in concert to stem the practice of misclassification together with expanding stop work orders beyond those for construction trades and prevailing wage, and requiring tax data to be shared between the state Department of Treasury and Labor to support more comprehensive investigations.”