New Jersey: Wage Theft Law Substantially Expands Wage and Hour Laws

APPLIES TO

All Employers with NJ Employees

EFFECTIVE

August 6, 2019, unless otherwise noted

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(888) 378-2456

New Jersey recently enacted the Wage Theft Law, imposing new notice requirements on employers and substantially expanding potential individual, joint and successor liability for employers and officers/agents.

Notice Requirement.  The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will release a statement concerning employees’ rights under the New Jersey wage and hour laws.  Employers must provide this statement to all current employees and new employees at time of hire.

Failure to Maintain Records.  Employers who fail to produce records as required under wage and hour law face a rebuttable presumption that any allegations concerning the time and number of hours related to a wage and hour claim are true.  Similarly, failure to present records in criminal proceedings creates the assumption the allegations are true unless the employer demonstrates good cause for the failure.

Anti-Retaliation.  Retaliatory actions taken against employees who make a complaint or inform other employees of their wage and hour rights will be characterized as a “disorderly persons offense.”  On top of that, adverse actions taken within 90 days of an individual filing a complaint or instituting a court action creates the presumption of retaliation, which may be rebuttable in civil claims.  Violations of anti-retaliation protections carry a number of potential fines or even imprisonment, with the severity dependent on how many violations the employer has already incurred.

Enhanced Criminal Penalties and Individual Liability.  The amended law expands the scope of the “disorderly persons” offense to relate to failure to pay wages, compensation, or benefits, with “benefits” now encompassing health benefits, pensions, medical treatment, disability compensation, etc. Employers found to have committed a disorderly persons offense are subject to significant penalties, include payment of wages owed, 200% of that amount in liquidated damages, plus reasonable costs, on top of other fines.

Pattern of Wage Nonpayment.  The Wage Theft Law creates a new offense, “pattern of wage nonpayment,” a third-degree crime.  This goes into effect November 1, 2019.

Expanded Joint and Successor Liabilities.  Employers can be held liable under the Wage Theft Law as joint or successor employers.

Statute of Limitations.  The statute of limitations for unpaid minimum wage and overtime claims has increased from two to six years.

Increased Authority of Commissioner.  The Commission’s jurisdictional authority has increased.  Employees can attempt to recover for a full six-year period and liquidated damages up to 200% in wage collection proceedings, and bring retaliation claims in such proceedings.

Posting Requirement.  The Commissioner must compile and prominently “place” all final determinations or court judgments on its website.  This information will publicly display some employer-related information, such as its name and address, the nature of the claim, affected employees, and more.

Action Items

  1. Review the bill here.
  2. Review payroll and recordkeeping practices and policies.
  3. Consider auditing pay practices to identify and address any potential exposure.
  4. Distribute required notice when available.
  5. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2019 ManagEase

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