On Monday, the N.J. Senate is scheduled to vote on Sen. Loretta Weinberg’s (D-Bergen) paid sick leave bill, S-785. Supporters of the bill stressed that New Jersey would be joining a group of other states and a handful of cities by passing this legislation. This is only half true. The bill being considered by the N.J. Legislature is very different from paid sick leave laws in other jurisdictions.
This legislation would encourage employees who think their employer violated the paid sick leave law to sue their employer in order to get their sick days. In the other states with paid sick leave laws (California, Connecticut and Massachusetts), employees are not pressured to litigate; in fact, lawsuits over sick leave are not allowed. Instead, employees file a complaint with their respective Labor Commissioner or Attorney General.
Pushing employees to litigate rather than promoting a regulatory enforcement mechanism is a poor policy choice. For the average employee, litigation is inconvenient, time-consuming, and intimidating. From the employer’s point of view, the same is true.
If the legislature wants to pass a paid sick leave bill that truly benefits employees, it should make sure employees don’t have to hire a lawyer to get relief.
Marcus Rayner is president of the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute.