On Aug. 6, 2019, New Jersey Appearing Gov. Sheila Oliver signed a new “wage theft” legislation that expands the fines, penalties, and damages to be imposed for violations of the state’s wage fee legislation for an prolonged six-year statute of limitations interval. The legislation takes impact instantly.
Civil and Felony Penalties
Beneath the brand new legislation, violators are required to pay the wages owed to the worker and liquidated damages equal to 200% of the wages owed. Liquidated damages will not be required, nevertheless, for a primary violation if the employer can present that (a) the violation was an inadvertent error made in good religion, (b) the employer had affordable grounds for believing that the act was not a violation, and (c) the employer acknowledges the violation and pays the wages owed inside 30 days of the discover of violation. Along with the doable liquidated damages, there are additionally fines of $500 and 20% of the owed wages for a primary offense. Fines improve to $1,000 and 20% of the owed wages for every subsequent offense. Extra administrative penalties as much as $250 for a primary violation and $500 for every subsequent violation will also be assessed by the New Jersey Division of Labor and Workforce Improvement.
On high of the employer’s civil fines, penalties, and damages, the legislation additionally supplies for legal penalties. Any company officer or worker liable for the wage fee violation commits a disorderly individuals offense. A primary violation comes with a wonderful of $500 to $1,000 or jail time of 10 to 90 days, or each a wonderful and jail. For subsequent violations, the fines vary from $1,000 to $2,000 and jail time ranges from 10 to 100 days, and a wonderful and jail time can each be imposed. And, employers who violate the invoice three or extra occasions are responsible of a brand new third-degree crime of “sample of wage nonpayment.”
Employers are additionally topic to a wage fee audit as a substitute for, or along with, any of those different sanctions. If an audit reveals further violations, the employer and company workers could also be topic to further fines, penalties, damages, and jail time, in addition to further audits. Finally, the New Jersey Division of Labor and Workforce Improvement might difficulty a cease work order or completely revoke the employer’s working licenses for repeated violations.
Extra Retaliation Safety
The brand new legislation additionally addresses retaliation towards an worker who information a wage fee grievance. The legislation will presume that retaliation has occurred if an adversarial motion is taken inside 90 days of the submitting of a wage grievance. Retaliation towards an worker who information a wage fee grievance additionally topics company employers to a disorderly individuals offense and employer fines within the vary of $100 to $1,000 plus fee of wages misplaced because of the retaliation and liquidated damages of 200% of the wages misplaced. As well as, if an worker is discharged in retaliation for submitting a wage fee grievance, the employer is “required” to supply reinstatement, except prohibited by legislation, together with all misplaced wages because of that discharge.
Expansive Software of New Legislation
The legislation just isn’t restricted to failure to pay wages. It additionally consists of failure to pay compensation and advantages, which embody well being advantages, pensions, medical therapy, incapacity advantages, and staff’ compensation. And, an employer’s failure to supply adequate worker information in response to an worker’s wage declare ends in a rebuttable presumption that the worker labored for the employer for the time frame asserted and for the quantity of wages alleged within the worker’s declare.
The legislation imposes joint and a number of other legal responsibility on each an employer and a labor contractor offering staff to the employer. This legal responsibility can’t be waived or contractually shifted from the employer to the labor contractor.
Violations and names of violating employers might be made public on a web site, based on the legislation. Employers are additionally required to supply new hires and workers with a written copy of an announcement of their rights beneath New Jersey’s wage-and-hour legal guidelines and an evidence of file a declare or take different motion within the occasion of an alleged violation.
Takeaways for Employers
Employers ought to make sure that all worker advantages, payroll, human assets, and accounting departments are up to date as to this new legislation and the penalties it imposes (together with doable particular person legal legal responsibility). Employers also needs to implement processes to watch wage funds and rapidly right any inadvertent errors. As soon as notified of an error or grievance relating to worker wages, compensation or advantages, employers want to analyze promptly and coordinate with authorized counsel to make sure compliance with the legislation.
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