NJ Wage Theft Law
Earlier this month, NJ enacted a new “wage theft” law that effective immediately, expands the fines, penalties, and damages for violations of the state’s wage payment law.
Wage theft happens when an employer does not pay workers what they are owed. Theft can take a variety of forms: refusing to pay workers at all or refusing to pay for hours worked; refusing to pay standard hourly or overtime minimum wage rates or refusing to pay for time out of regular shifts or “off the clock.” Employees might be given checks that bounce, have illegal deductions taken from their paycheck or deductions for meals and other breaks they did not actually receive.
The newly enacted New Jersey measure increases fines for wage theft to between $500 and $1,000 and provides for prison sentences of between 10 and 90 days for a first offense. Fines would climb to between $1,000 and $2,000 for a second offense, and imprisonment for up to 100 days. Habitual offenders could face up to five years in prison and fines of $15,000.
To force the hands of employers found guilty of wage theft, the state labor commissioner can revoke an employer’s license – effectively shutting down the business – until the correct wages are paid.
Employees can seek recovery of up to six years of stolen wages, or up to 200 percent of their stolen wages – capped at $50,000 – if business owners are found to have retaliated against workers for reporting the thefts. Proponents of the anti-retaliatory measures argue they are necessary to prevent employers from forcing workers to keep quiet about wage theft.
The law is not limited to failure to pay wages. It also includes failure to pay compensation and benefits, which include health benefits, pensions, medical treatment, disability benefits, and workers compensation. Additionally, an employer’s failure to provide sufficient employee records in response to an employee’s wage claim results in a rebuttable presumption that the employee worked for the employer for the period of time asserted and for the amount of wages alleged in the employee’s claim.
Liberty Payroll has partnered with industry leaders to offer HR solutions that will help you stay in compliance. Whether you need a full HR audit, an employee handbook, help hiring and firing, our solutions can help. Contact us today to discuss your HR needs. Do not wait until it’s too late.
Article courtesy of Josh Rothenberg V.P. of Sales & Marketing, Liberty Payroll (Reprinted with permission).