From the State: Customer Service


Better News For Workers’ Comp

Nominate a Woman

Hiring High Schoolers

Adventurous Women

Transportation Talk

Transit Center

Contracts Awarded

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 17, 1999. All rights reserved.

Labor Pains for Employers

Moms are not the only ones who get the baby blues.


obligated by law to provide women with leave under the Family Leave

Act, as defined by both the state and federal government, also suffer

excruciating labor pains, so to speak, says Earl Bennett, an

attorney with Saul Ewing at 214 Carnegie Center. "It’s complex

enough to understand one statute," he says, "but to understand

two statutes leaves an employer in a perilous situation."

Bennett will help employers navigate their way through the Federal

and state statutes on Thursday, November 18, at 8 a.m. at the Saul

Ewing office in Carnegie Center. Cost: $40. Call 609-452-3133.

The federal and state versions of the Family & Medical Leave Acts

are similar, says Bennett, but just different enough to cause


Under federal law, women are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave,

both for disability pertaining to pregnancy or for care of a child.

The state law, however, entitles women to 12 weeks unpaid leave during

a 24 month period only for care of a child. "The challenge is

how to deal with providing employees their rights under both


says Bennett, who has a BA in English from Harvard, Class of 1973,

and earned his law degree at Rutgers in Camden. "One has to


if the mother is entitled to both — leave for disability and leave

for care — and, as it turns out, because the state law also says

that an individual is entitled to any other leave covered by any other

statute, they should get disability leave as well. The question is

under what circumstances is a person entitled to both." If a


member is ill, or a woman becomes temporarily disabled, that can


how both laws are interpreted, he adds.

How the family leave acts are interpreted also depends on the hours

an employee works, the number of employees in a company, and the


of the company. Part-time employees, for example, have to work at

least 1,250 hours in one year to qualify for federal leave, and 1,000

hours to qualify for state leave. But an employer with fewer than

50 employees within a 75-mile radius is not bound by the Federal


Thus, a person who works slightly more than a 1,000 hours a year for

a tiny New Jersey operation, telecommuting from California, would

not be entitled to Federal leave, but could very well be entitled

to leave under New Jersey law.

With the new global economy, these unusual situations are appearing

more and more, says Bennett. "I talked to such an employee last

week who resided in California but worked out of an office in New

Jersey and telecommuted," he says. Employers should learn


they can about both acts, says Bennett, if they want to avoid serious

labor pains in the form of government penalties.

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From the State: Customer Service

When Governor Christie Whitman and Commerce

Commissioner Gil Medina reorganized the commerce department as a


commission, among Medina’s first moves was to hire technical


who can help draw more high tech firms to New Jersey.

"We have an intransigent bureaucracy in place that does not allow

us to react quickly to help businesses and ward off problems before

they turn into crises," said Medina then (U.S. 1 February 18,

1998). "We do not have the people on staff with the knowledge

about the major industry sectors such as pharmaceutical or technology

that are important to our economy. We want to make sure that no


falls through the cracks."

Medina, an alumnus of Rutgers and Temple, is both an attorney and

a CPA. He created an Office of Accounts Management, modeled after

corporate sales organizations and organized by geographical territory

and business type. One year later, the accounts management staff has

been made a unit of the commission’s Department of Client Promotion.

The account executives are charged with providing a 24-hour guaranteed

response for requests for assistance so that any business with a


will hear from the appropriate person in government. Industry


focus on the largest employers and those with the greatest growth

potential. Regional account managers work with companies with fewer

than 100 employees.

In a report issued last week Medina says this department helped to

create or retain nearly 25,000 jobs in fiscal year 1999. The account

executives held 129 appointments with 79 different companies. They

helped inform 945 companies about the state’s new approach to


economic development assistance and services.

Industry representatives include Jim Donnelly


Charles Lynch (petrochemical), JoAnn Ritter (food


and Henry Kurz (pharmaceutical/biotech). The position for


— finance, insurance, and real estate — is vacant. Regional

representatives include Mary Ann Buga (for Hudson, Essex,


Warren counties), Edward Dietz (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester,

Salem), Marialyce Fitzgerald (Bergen, Passaic, Sussex), Paul

Shaffery (Bayshore Development), Charlotte Tomaszewski


Somerset, Hunterdon, Union), Lawrence Coyle (Middlesex,


and James Waldron (Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland).

The account managers are supervised by Gerald A. Janssen, who

spent seven years at the Sarnoff Corporation, most recently as senior

vice president of human resources and facilities operation. "The

system provides the state with a firm foundation for business


expansion, retention, and international trade promotion," says


The commission’s website ( has information

that any company can access without talking to an account rep, such

information as site availability, tax incentives, local zoning, and

regulations. For a copy of the report call 609-777-4413. To contact

an account executive for either your industry or your geographic


call 609-777-0885.

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Students who want to start out at Mercer County


College but graduate from the College of New Jersey can do that more

easily, now that the Thomas Sepe and R. Barbara


presidents of the two colleges, have renegotiated their transfer


Eligible students must have scored at least 1,125 on their SATs or

have been ranked in the top half of their high school graduating


Once at Mercer, they must declare their intention to enroll in the

student transfer program by the end of the first year and have at

least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average for that year. For MCCC

students approved to be admitted to TCNJ in the fall term of their

third college year, TCNJ will offer the same consideration for campus

housing as TCNJ rising juniors. Call 609-586-4800 for information.

Top Of Page
Better News For Workers’ Comp

Employers pay workers compensation costs based on how

much was withdrawn from the claim pool the previous year. The good

news is that for the fifth consecutive year, premiums in New Jersey

have been reduced, even while benefits to injured workers are


"This is another illustration that New Jersey is a good place

to do business," says Governor Whitman. "It is good

news for employers and good news for the workers who need assistance

after an injury on the job."

Here’s how it works. The Department of Labor processes the claims

for benefits, while the Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau

(part of the Department of Banking and Insurance) sets the rates and

monitors the rules regarding workers compensation and employer



This year, premiums will be decreased by 2.5 percent. For the previous

years premiums decreased by 9.3 percent, 11.2 percent, and 3.6 percent

— or a total of $200 million or 28 percent over the years from

1994 to 1998. Overall, 65,000 New Jersey businesses will save $22

million on their premiums next year. Meanwhile, next year’s weekly

benefits for workers will increase by five percent and range from

a minimum of $144 to a maximum of $568.

Not all types of businesses will see lower costs. There are nearly

600 business classifications, and just two-thirds of them will


Still, says Jaynee LaVecchia, commissioner of banking and


"Employers and insurers continue to work together to improve


safety and to reduce medical expenses through the use of managed


Top Of Page
Nominate a Woman

Nominations are due on Friday, December 3, for New


Women of Achievement Awards sponsored by Douglass College, the college

for women at Rutgers, and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s

Clubs. Past recipients have included author Joyce Carol Oates

and McCarter’s artistic director, Emily Mann, plus Nancy

Lane, vice president of community affairs for Johnson & Johnson

and Governor Whitman.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions or distinguished


in such fields as public service, business, education, the arts, and

volunteer service. Douglass College was founded by the women’s club

group in 1918. Call 732-932-9721 for nomination forms.

Top Of Page
Hiring High Schoolers

Staying in school is at least as important as


a C average, says Governor Whitman and the Business Coalition

for Educational Excellence of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber and the state have launched a "School Counts!"

program to make it clear to students that what they do in high school

will affect their job opportunities.

Those who qualify for this program will get a certificate they can

take to employers when they apply for a job. But to qualify they must

not only make a minimum grade of C in all their courses, they must

graduate in eight consecutive semesters. Their attendance record must

be show least 95 percent punctual attendance, and they must have more

than the required courses for graduation.

Businesses in Monmouth County can participate in this program now,

and it is supposed to spread statewide soon. "Employers want a

high quality workforce," says Dana Egreczky of the state

chamber, "and this is an effective way to find quality


Call Egreczky at 609-989-7888.

Top Of Page
Adventurous Women

You yearn to climb a mountain but all your husband wants

to do is play golf. Or you are a single woman, for whatever reason,

and all your female friends are couch potatoes. Frederika Ebel

of Class A Travel at Research Park is starting a "Women’s


Travel" club. It meets Thursday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. at

425 Wall Street. Call 609-497-0011 or E-mail:

"Based on our members’ interests and needs, our travel club will

ensure that you have a traveling companion whom you know and feel

comfortable with," says Ebel, who is single herself. She was


from a marketing and education at a medical facility in Flemington

and went to New York University to learn to be a travel consultant.

Trips will range from European travel to eco-tourism expeditions to

Costa Rica to journeys to exotic locations. Only a handful have signed

up for the club so far but Ebel has high expectations. The club is

open to all women and no fees (other than travel expenses) will be

charged. "Women have a more diverse background and will be more

adventurous, if they are allowed to be," says Ebel.

Top Of Page
Transportation Talk

Millstone Bypass proponents and opponents may wish to

attend the conference held by the New Jersey Association of Counties,

"Transportation Today and Tomorrow," on Friday, December 3,

from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Cost:

$120. Call 609-394-3467.

Discussions moderated by William Schuber (Bergen County


and Richard E. Squires (Atlantic County executive) will include

county freeholders, legislators, and various transportation


A luncheon will honor Senator Frank Lautenberg and


Robert A. Roe.

Top Of Page
Transit Center

Need a transportation coordinator for your office? Keep

Middlesex Moving Inc. is offering businesses a free customized


package, known as TransitCenter, to help employees navigate the public

transit system in New Jersey. The package includes maps, bus and train

schedules, information about New Jersey Transit’s Vanpool Sponsorship

Program, and commuter discounts passes.

Business Pass, for example, offers pre-tax savings on commuting costs

and discounts on bus and rail passes. Patron Pass is a one-way rail

pass employers can buy so workers can ride by rail to Philadelphia

or New York without raiding petty cash. For more information, call

Helene Molter at 732-745-4318.

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Contracts Awarded

<D>Katherine Benesch, a partner at the law firm


& Greiner at 993 Lenox Drive, received a grant of $8,500 from the

New Jersey Breathes coalition to study the legality of anti-smoking

legislation at the municipal level. Benesch will research all of New

Jersey’s "smoke-free/clean air" statutes, common law and local

ordinances and compare them with requirements in other states. The

grant is administered through the American Cancer Society.

Benesch also was recently named president of the Princeton Bar


Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

With a $150,000 grant from the Fannie E. Rippel


Rider University has been able to buy more scientific equipment to

support research in neurobiology. "We plan to create a biology

program that will integrate biotechnology, neuroscience, and cancer

research," said Jonathan Karp, a neurobiologist hired by

Rider to head its new biopsychology program.

The grant will also support a three-year public lecture series by

prominent scientists. The foundation is based in Basking Ridge.

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