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New Jersey Bill Proposes Tougher Harassment Standards 

Assembly Bill 2443 (AB 2443) introduces significant changes to the state’s Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), impacting employers’ obligations and harassment standards. While the effective date of the bill is not explicitly mentioned, employers should be familiar with the key points of the proposed legislation and be prepared to make necessary changes.  

Here are key highlights of the proposed changes and how employers can prepare. 

Lowering the Standard for Harassment Claims. Currently, New Jersey courts consider harassment claims based on whether the conduct is “severe or pervasive” enough to create a hostile work environment. AB 2443 seeks to change this standard. The proposed change would consider the totality of circumstances, allowing even single incidents to be deemed sufficient for creating a hostile work environment. 

Mandatory Anti-Harassment Policy. If AB 2443 is passed, employers will be required to implement and maintain a written anti-harassment policy. This policy must be reviewed annually and provided in English, as well as any language spoken by employees who do not primarily speak English if the Division of Civil Rights (DCR) has developed a policy in that language. The policy must be distributed during the onboarding process, when a complaint is made, and whenever updates are made. If the employer has a website, the policy must be prominently displayed on it. 

Training Requirements. Employers will need to provide interactive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training to all employees, including supervisors. The training should occur within 90 days of initial hire and be repeated every two years. The training must cover necessary elements such as defining unlawful discrimination and harassment, examples of such behavior, internal complaint procedures, contact information for reporting violations, prohibition of retaliation, and bystander intervention. Additionally, supervisors must receive additional training on their responsibilities in preventing discrimination and harassment, handling complaints, and addressing instances of retaliation. 

Employers will also be required to keep a record of their employees’ completion of all training. It is unclear if the DCR will provide model training templates. 

Reporting Requirements. Employers with 50 or more employees (employed in New Jersey or beyond) for each workday for 20 or more calendar workweeks must report the number of harassment complaints to a designated state agency. The DCR is expected to provide a form for employers to complete on their website. 

Next Steps 

While AB 2443’s fate is still pending, employers should prioritize fostering a culture of open communication where employees feel safe reporting harassment concerns without fear of retaliation. Additionally, employers should review existing anti-harassment policies and training materials to identify necessary adjustments for compliance with the potential law. 

HR Works will continue to monitor this topic and provide updates as they become available. 

How HR Works Can Help 

HR Works offers a suite of comprehensive HR outsourcing services including a Learning Management System (LMS), policy development and assistance with workplace investigations. From special projects to year-round consulting and guidance, our HR Strategic Support services are here to help address your long or short-term HR needs. 

Whether you are looking for assistance with meeting compliance requirements, managing a specific employee investigation or ongoing support, our solutions can be customized to fit your unique needs. To learn more, contact us today or call 1-877-219-9062. 

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.