Earlier this month, New Jersey enacted a new wage theft law that most notably extends the statute of limitations for claims to six years, up from two.
Signed into law Aug. 6, the legislation enhances penalties for violating employers that could result in 18 months of prison time and fines reaching nearly $15,000 for repeat offenders. The bill is considered one of the most stringent wage theft laws in the nation.
New Jersey Wage Theft
Most provisions of the bill went into effect immediately. Violations of the wage theft measure include penalties that could result in:
- Potential suspension or revocation of an employer’s business license
- A fine of $500 to $1,000 for the first violation and/or 10-90 days of jail time
- A fine of $1,000 to $2,000 for second or further violations, and/or 10-100 days of jail time
The New Jersey Wage Theft Act also further discourages employers from retaliating against employees who report suspected wage theft. The law assumes retaliation if an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of an individual filing a complaint. Meanwhile, employers who are found in violation of the law may have to pay back both the wages plus attorney’s fees and 200 percent of the unpaid wages. “We must ensure that every hardworking individual in New Jersey receives the wages they worked hard to earn,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver. “I am proud to sign this legislation that will protect the rights of workers, furthering the Murphy-Oliver Administration’s commitment to building a stronger and fairer New Jersey through protecting the right to earn a fair wage.”
Wage Theft Laws
States have been strengthening wage theft laws of late.
The New Jersey legislation went into effect just days after criminal provisions of Minnesota’s new wage theft law went into effect on Aug. 1. Plus, New York recently joined several other states that allow employees to place wage liens on employers’ property. These new laws underscore the importance for businesses to notify workers of their rights and stay compliant with ever-changing employment regulations.