Unscrupulous employers steal more money from workers every year than the amount of money lost due to shoplifting. Every year, wage theft results in billions of dollars of losses to the national economy and wreaks havoc in the lives of millions of workers. In order to halt widespread losses to the economy and to align the State of New Jersey with neighboring states, in 2019, the New Jersey Legislature recently strengthened the state’s wage and hour and wage payment laws by passing bill S1790/A-2903 (the “Act”). The Act created one of the most expansive wage theft laws in the United States by expressly prohibiting retaliation against workers who speak up regarding an alleged wage theft violation, increasing financial penalties for violations, extending the statute of limitations to six years, and broadening the joint employer analysis to franchises and labor contractors. For nearly a decade worker centers like New Labor, the Laundry Workers Center, and Make the Road New Jersey championed efforts to update New Jersey’s law to respond to an increasing epidemic of wage theft.
New Jersey finally has a strong statewide law against wage theft. We have been fighting wage theft for years!
STRONGER PENALTIES FOR WAGE THEFT
- Violator pays wages owed PLUS liquidated damages of no more than 200% (Unless the employer can prove on first offense that it was an “honest mistake”) • Guilty Employers can be charged with a disorderly person offense and can go to jail for up to 18 months depending on offense; On third offenses for employ- ers with “pattern of wage theft” subject with 3-5 years in jail.
- Licenses can be withheld or suspended if wages aren’t paid after final deci- sions
PROTECTION AGAINST RETALIATION
- Protection against retaliation within 90 days of making a claim
LONGER TIME RANGE AND HIGHER CEILING FOR COMPLAINTS
- Workers can file up to 6 years and up to $50,000 in unpaid wages with the NJDOL
- Employers must provide info with how to file a wage claim at time of hiring
- State wage and hour laws apply to all employees, with no exclusion based on citizenship status