A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Interactive Process Breakdown: Employee’s Refusal to Participate Bars Discrimination Claims

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. On March 31, 2020, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided the matter of Petti v. Ocean County Board of Health, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10082 (3d Cir. 2020). Plaintiff B. Janet Petti was an accountant for the Ocean County Board of Health (“OCHD”) and worked in one of the two buildings at OCHD’s office campus. Construction began at the building next to where Petti worked. Petti reached out to OCHD’s Director of Administration and Program Development regarding construction debris and asbestos out of concern it could aggravate her unspecified medical condition. OCHD responded that […]

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GRC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Impacts on OPRA

As previously addressed on this blog, on March 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 3849 into law which relaxes the deadline by which public agencies are required to respond to requests for government records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) during a period of a declared emergency, such as the current COVID-19 health crisis. On March 26, 2020 the Government Records Council (“GRC”) issued a special statement regarding the modification. Under normal circumstances, the custodian of records of a public agency must respond to an OPRA request within seven (7) business days by either granting access to […]

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Are You Ready: Summary of Federal COVID-19 Leave Laws

By on April 7, 2020 in Legislation with 0 Comments

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Below is an article written by my colleagues, Ralph R. Smith, Esq., Co-Chair of our firm’s Labor & Employment Group, and Lara M. Ruggerio, Esq., a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Group. The article summarizes two new federal leave laws dealing with employee work absences resulting from the COVID 19 crisis. If you wish to view additional articles and/or be kept up-to-date with labor & employment issues, visit our HR Resource blog by clicking here. As of April 1, 2020, employers must now comply with the two new federal leave laws recently passed […]

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NJDOE Finally Releases Notice Stating Permissibility of Delivering Related Services to Special Education Students through Remote Technology

By on April 2, 2020 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. With most schools in New Jersey closed for nearly two weeks, and all closed since Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 107 on March 21, 2020, school districts across the State have been awaiting further guidance from the New Jersey Department of Education (“NJDOE”) on the important issue of whether NJDOE would permit the provision of related services to special education students through remote technology and distance learning during this period of school closure due to the COVID-19 virus.  That much-awaited guidance came yesterday, as Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet issued a letter titled “Notice […]

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Additional Guidance on Conducting Remote Board Meetings

About two weeks ago, we addressed the issue of how boards of education could conduct their school board meetings electronically and still comply with the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) when there is a severe restriction on public gatherings due to the coronavirus health crisis. Fortunately, the Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”) recently provided additional guidance on this issue. DLGS emphasized that telephonic or virtual public meetings without a physical meeting place should be utilized for the foreseeable future in light of the Governor’s Executive Order 107. Virtual meeting options include streaming and/or online meeting platforms, such as Google […]

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New Statute Requires Schools to Provide Meal Distribution or Meal Vouchers during COVID-19 Closures to Students Eligible for Free & Reduced Price Lunches

By on March 25, 2020 in Legislation with 1 Comment

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a new bill, A-3840, to ensure the continuation of meal distribution to some of New Jersey’s most at-risk students as the State provides support to help local communities work through the COVID-19 pandemic.  The statute, now P.L. 2020, c. 6, requires local school districts to provide for meal distribution or a meal voucher program during the period of school closure due to the COVID-19 epidemic for those students who are eligible to receive free and reduced price lunches.  The act takes effect immediately. Under […]

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OPRA Deadlines Relaxed Amid Declared Emergencies

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. As a result of the public health crisis of COVID-19, on March 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 3849 into law which modifies the deadline by which public agencies are required to respond to requests for government records during the period of a declared emergency.  Normally, under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”), the custodian of records for public agencies has seven (7) business days to respond to a request made for government records by either granting access to the government record or by denying access.  Failure to respond within the seven (7) […]

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Subcontracting Restrictions and Changes in Health Insurance Plans and Employee Contributions Likely Coming Very Soon

By on March 20, 2020 in Legislation with 0 Comments

On March 19, 2020, the Senate approved two significant bills stemming from Senator Sweeney’s deal with the New Jersey Education Association (“NJEA”).  One bill requires alterations in health insurance plans and modifications to employee contributions to the cost of health coverage.  The other bill places restrictions on the ability of certain employers, including a school district,  to subcontract work of employees in a collective bargaining unit.  While not enacted yet, both pieces of legislation appear to be on the fast track to approval.  If enacted, they will take effect immediately. Key components of the bill altering health insurance and employee […]

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Holding Board Meetings Electronically During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By on March 17, 2020 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

Despite severe restrictions placed on public gatherings, school boards must meet during the coronavirus pandemic to address critical business, including convening a public hearing on the budget. The solution, holding a public meeting electronically, is supported by recent guidance from the Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”). The Open Public Meetings Act (N.J.S.A. 10:4-8(b)) permits public meetings to be held in person or by means of communication equipment.  DLGS guidance provides that communications equipment includes streaming services and other online meeting platforms. Notice of a meeting held by electronic equipment must be properly noticed.  Similarly, the board must provide a […]

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School Powers in Confronting an Epidemic

By on March 13, 2020 in Other with 0 Comments

School districts and boards of health have significant powers to address the spread of contagious disease.  Now is the time to review these powers. The board of health may direct closure of schools. N.J.S.A. 18A:40-12.  Whenever the board of health of any municipality shall declare any epidemic or cause of ill health to be so injurious or hazardous as to make it necessary to close any or all of the public schools in the municipality, the board of health must immediately serve notice on the board of education of the school district situated in the municipality that it is desirable […]

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