New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

Capitol Report

February 23, 2015

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.

NJSBA-authored Amicus Brief Focuses on Enforceability of Waivers by Employees

The NJSBA filed a motion seeking leave to participate as an amicus curiae party in a case pending before the Supreme Court. Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Company focuses on the enforceability of a clause reducing the applicable statute of limitations period for any actions filed by an employee against the employer.

The plaintiff completed a job application containing a waiver that fixes the statute of limitations for various claims against the employer to six-months from two years. The clause, written in capital letters on the second page of a two-page application for employment, sought the waiver, but failed to state the applicable two-year statute of limitations. The plaintiff was hired as a helper and later promoted to driver. Soon after his promotion in 2010, the plaintiff injured his knee and took leave, during which time he underwent knee surgery. He returned to work at the end of Sept. 2010, and was terminated three days later as part of a company-wide reduction in force. Nine months later, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant alleging disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, holding that the complaint was time-barred based on the six-month statute of limitations contained in the employment application. The appellate court affirmed, finding that the employment application was, in fact, a contract of adhesion. The Supreme Court granted certification on Dec. 5, 2014.

The proposed NJSBA brief argues that the employment application was a unilateral contract of adhesion that unreasonably and unconscionably limits citizens’ rights to access to the courts. The brief further argues against enforceability of any such provision unless there are clear indicia that the decision to reduce or waive the statutory timeframe was clear and unmistakable.

In the brief, the NJSBA describes the employment application as a “one-sided” part of a form contract, and underscores the fact that the employer waived no such statute of limitations. The NJSBA brief further states that “[t]he provision also did not explain what a statute of limitation is, how the provision differed from applicable statute of limitations, or advise that a failure to file within the six month period barred the plaintiff’s claims. In short, the provision resulted in an undue and unreasonable advantage to the employer.”

The proposed NJSBA brief was drafted by Association Treasurer John E. Keefe Jr., Stephen T. Sullivan Jr., Liana M. Nobile and Javier J. Diaz, all of the law firm of Keefe Bartels.

NJSBA President to Participate on Supreme Court’s Committee on Domestic Violence

NJSBA President Paris Eliades has been tapped to participate on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence. The committee was formed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to examine issues related to domestic violence in the New Jersey court system. Representatives from all three branches of government will provide their multiple perspectives and make recommendations to improve the current system. These improvements will focus on the interaction of the municipal and superior courts in domestic violence matters, the level and degree of domestic violence offenses, the resources available to victims of domestic violence, and education and training opportunities for all stakeholders.

Public Comment Period Open on Several Supreme Court Rules Committee Reports

Several Supreme Court rules committee reports were made available for public comment earlier this month. The following published committee reports make a number of recommendations to the Supreme Court for rule amendments and other non-rule administrative actions:

-       Committee on Complementary Dispute Resolution

-       Criminal Practice Committee

-       Family Practice Committee

-       Committee on Minority Concerns

-       Municipal Court Practice Committee

-       Committee on the Rules of Evidence (Part I and II)

Full copies of the reports are available for review http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/reports2015/index.htm. Comments and/or recommendations can be submitted via email at Comments.Mailbox@judiciary.state.nj.us or mailed to:

Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

Acting Administrative Director of the Courts

Rules Comments

Hughes Justice Complex

P.O. Box 037

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0037

The Administrative Office of the Courts will accept comments and/or recommendations until Friday, April 10. The Supreme Court will hold a public hearing on these reports in May. Any approved rule amendments will likely become effective on Sept. 1.

Attorney Online Registration and Payment Center Available for 2015

The Attorney Online Registration and Payment Center is now available to licensed New Jersey attorneys for the 2015 registration/payment cycle. The 2015 deadline for registration and payment is March 27.  

Licensed New Jersey attorneys are encouraged to register online and pay any required fees electronically. To complete registration and pay online, go to www.judiciary.state.nj.us/attyreg/index.htm, select the "Attorney Online Registration and Payment Center" link and follow the instructions.  

For concerns related to registering online, contact the Superior Court Clerk's Office at 609-421-6100 or SCCO.Mailbox@judiciary.state.nj.us. 

SAVE THE DATE

NJSBA Town Hall Advocacy Meeting

Ethics in State Government

March 9

9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Trenton War Memorial

Join the NJSBA in Trenton for this half-day continuing legal education (CLE) program, which will explore the ethical and compliance issues attorneys and executive and legislative branch state government staff face on a daily basis. There will be a trio of panels featuring attorneys, judges, and legislators who will discuss the administrative challenges and the ethical standard members of executive and legislative branches of government must follow. The program will also focus on the ethical obligations attorneys face when interacting with public officials and legislative staff and the interplay with the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct.

Register now at www.njsba.com.

Past issues of the Capitol Report