Bill Banning Non Disclosure Agreements Advances Out of Assembly Committee
Assemblyman John McKeon’s bill barring provisions in employment contracts that waive rights or remedies or bars agreements that conceal details related to discrimination claims advanced through the Assembly Labor Committee last week. In a letter stating its concerns, the NJSBA urged the sponsors to review the issue more carefully because it believes that the legislation would chill settlements.
The association cited three main concerns with the bill:
- The bill does not address the much larger problem of repeat predatory behavior that affects victims who never come forward, which is approximately 75 percent of all victims;
- The ban on confidentiality does not differentiate among the fact of settlement, the dollar amount, and narrative information, and imposes on all victims a “choice” to suppress settlement overall;
- The bill will force many parties willing to settle into litigation, harming victims and potentially overwhelming the court system.
There is an additional concern that restricting the right to contract on this narrow issue and exclusively affecting those people who suffer workplace discrimination and harassment is inconsistent with the freedom to contract afforded to individuals in other areas of the law. It could even regulate speech, implicating First Amendment rights, according to the association.
The NJSBA’s Labor and Employment Section has put together a working group and offered to reach out to all of the stakeholders to find an alternative solution.
The bill passed the Senate Labor Committee, but has not yet been voted on in the Senate. The bill also requires a full vote in the Assembly. The association continues to monitor the issue.
Marriage Ban Bill Advances; NJSBA Urges Amendments
A bill that would ban marriages completely for anyone under age 18 advanced through the Assembly Judiciary Committee last week. S427(Pou)/A865(Munoz) legislates a complete ban on marriage or entering into a civil union for anyone under the age of 18. The New Jersey State Bar Association expressed concerns over a complete ban, supporting an amended bill that would lower the ban to under 16 and create a rebuttable presumption that it would be contrary to the best interests of a child between the ages of 16 and 18 to be married, which presumption should be subject to judicial review.
“The NJSBA reviewed the bill with an eye toward balancing the interests of protecting children against forced marriages, while also protecting the interests of potential exceptions,” said the association in its statement to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “Those contemplated exceptions are marriages in contemplation of one of the parties going off to a military obligation (i.e. war, conflict, military assignment, etc.) and pregnancies under age 18 wherein marriage may be permissible if it would not be contrary to the best interest of the child under the age of 18.”
Delaware recently signed into law a complete ban without exceptions. It is the only state in the country to do so. Previously, the state permitted marriage at any age with a judge’s approval. This year, Florida raised the marriage age to 17; Tennessee is seeking to increase the age to 17 as well; and New Hampshire passed a bill to raise the marriage age to 16. The NJSBA’s proposed amendments are similar to that signed by Governor Cuomo in New York last year.
“The Association certainly appreciates the impetus behind the bill,” the NJSBA continued. “In fact, the amendments proposed are drafted with this in mind – to ensure that marriages between ages 16 and 18 are only permitted in limited circumstances, under thoughtful and rigorous review, and with judicial approval only.”
The bill heads to a full vote of the Assembly. If signed, New Jersey will be the only other state to ban marriages for anyone under age 18.
This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To learn more, visit njsba.com.