On March 18th, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed state assembly bill No. 591 which serves to generally prohibit discrimination against consumers paying for goods or services with cash (the “Act”). The Act makes it an unlawful practice under the New Jersey consumer fraud act for a person to sell or offer for sale any goods or services at retail if the person requires the buyer to pay with credit or prohibits the buyer from paying with cash, effectively amounting to a ban on “cashless stores” throughout the state. It also states that a person selling or offering for sale goods or services at retail shall accept legal tender (i.e. cash) when offered by the buyer as payment.
The Act is applicable to any retail transaction for goods or services conducted in-person, and excludes telephone, mail, or Internet-based transactions. In addition, the provisions of the Act do not apply to:
- Any person selling goods or services at an airport, provided that at least two persons selling food at each terminal within the airport accept cash as payment
- Any parking facility that accepts mobile payment, provided that the facility does not accept payment by any means other than mobile payment
- Any company in the business of renting motor vehicles provided that the company accepts a cashier’s check or a certified check when offered by a buyer as payment
As the Act affects all transactions for goods or services conducted “in-person” within the state of New Jersey, it can be construed to apply payments made by patients “in-person” while visiting a New Jersey medical practice or facility for services in connection with that visit. As such, practices and facilities should take immediate action to either insure cash payments may be made by patients in the office, or that all payments are exclusively handled via either an online, telephone or mail-based system, which are excluded under the act.
Violations of the Act are punishable by a civil monetary penalty of not more than $2,500 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. Additionally, violations can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.
Contact Frier Levitt today to speak to an attorney.