New Jersey recently amended its wage and hour laws to include increased protections for employees under the new Wage Theft Act. The law increases employer penalties for wage and hour violations, extends the statute of limitations for filing wage and hour claims, and offers enhanced protection from retaliation against employees who file wage and hour claims.
The Act makes New Jersey one of the strongest advocates for fair wage and hour compliance in the nation. Under the Wage Theft Act, employers must properly classify their employees as exempt or non-exempt from overtime requirements, accurately categorize them as employees or independent contractors, provide appropriate pay and benefits, and keep wage and hour records for a minimum period of six years.
Provisions of the New Jersey Wage Theft Act
There are several provisions included in the Act that provide improved protection for employees.
- Increase of the Statute of Limitations from two to six years for filing claims
- Employers must provide up to 200 percent of wages owed in liquidated damages, which is in addition to compensation for earned, unpaid wages.
- The penalty for retaliation against an employee for filing a wage and hour claim is now a disorderly persons offense. Retaliation claims can be filed for any termination or other adverse employment action against an employee for filing a complaint, taking action, or informing coworkers of their rights to file suit against the employer.
- Employers who fail to pay wages, compensation, or benefits within 30 days may now be charged with a disorderly persons offense. Penalties include payment of past wages, 200 percent liquidated damages, court costs and attorney fees, and a fine of $500 to $2,000.
- Repeat offenders that violate wage and hour laws may be charged with a third degree crime that can result in incarceration.
- Expansion of joint and successor liabilities
- Support of employee evidence when employers fail to produce business records
- Written notice of the Wage Theft Act must be provided to employees and new hires
Notice to New Jersey and New York Employers
The states of New Jersey and New York are now the leaders in wage and hour protections for employees. Both states have doubled the penalties for employers that are non-compliant with wage and hour laws. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are limited to a three-year statute of limitations to file a wage and hour suit against an employer. The increase to a six-year statute of limitations in New Jersey and New York doubles the potential for litigation.
Under the FLSA, employees have a potential for liquidated damages, but under the New Jersey Wage Theft Act, employers face a mandated 200 percent of money owed in liquidated damages. Employers are responsible for ensuring their employees are properly classified and compensated. Employers in both New Jersey and New York are encouraged to conduct a self-audit to ensure they are in compliance with the amended law.
Mount Laurel Employment Discrimination Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Advocate for Fair Wages for New Jersey Employees
If you believe your employer is in violation of federal or state wage and hour laws, call the Mount Laurel employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC at 856-235-7075, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and South Jersey.