There is a new law in New Jersey that aims to prevent wage theft. The law, passed by Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, holds employers accountable for unjust employee wages. Representatives hope that the law, referred to as the Wage Theft Act, inspires other states in the U.S. to follow suit. The Wage Theft Act is effective immediately and coincides with New Jersey’s minimum wage law. Representatives are hopeful that the Wage Theft Act will force business owners to adjust to rising minimum wages. In doing so, New Jersey workers will be able to afford rent, utilities, childcare, and other necessities.
What is Wage Theft?
Wage theft occurs when an employee does not receive the wages promised to them. This type of infraction manifests itself in different ways. Common forms of wage theft include:
- Refusing to pay an employee for working overtime
- Having an employee work off the clock
- Not paying an employee for all hours worked
- Stealing an employee’s tips
- Not paying an employee the minimum wage
- Refusing to pay an employee at all
Employers steal millions of dollars from New Jersey employees every year. Therefore, it is important that employers are held accountable. Representatives are hopeful that the Wage Theft Act will help workers recover unpaid wages while also helping business owners who are already following the law.
Penalties for Offenders
This new law aims to strengthen the current penalties for employers who fail to properly pay their employees. One of the penalties of the Wage Theft Act requires businesses to pay victims damages that are 200 percent of their lost earnings. Similarly, employers are susceptible to a fine between $500 and $1,000. This greatly exceeds the previous fines for similar infractions, which was only $100. Business owners who refuse to pay the fine will face between 10 and 90 days in jail. The worst offenders might receive both a fine and jail time.
Repeat offenders face considerable consequences. These consequences include fines up to $15,000. The new law considers wage theft a third-degree crime, leading to the possibility of up to five years of imprisonment. Employers who owe an employee $5,000 might be susceptible to state audits. The law also extends the statute of limitations for instances of wage theft from two years to six years.
New Jersey Employment Lawyers at the Burnham Law Group, LLC Advocate for Employees
If you or a loved one was affected by wage theft, please consider contacting a New Jersey employment lawyer at the Burnham Law Group, LLC. Our lawyers work tirelessly to ensure legal justice and obtain entitled wages. If you are interested in speaking to one of our lawyers, contact us online or call us at 856-512-1461 for a free consultation. With offices located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County.