On August 6, 2019, New Jersey amended its Wage and Hour Laws to strengthen its Wage Theft Law substantially expanding civil and criminal penalties for the nonpayment of wages and acts of retaliation. Of concern to employers and management groups, including the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the new law may penalize and impose criminal sanctions for inadvertent mistakes, and greatly expands liability for joint and successor employers. The new law also expands the statute of limitations from two to six years for administrative claims, imposes liquidated damages, and includes a presumption of “retaliation” upon employers who take an adverse employment action against an employee who files a complaint of wage violations in close proximity to the adverse event. The law went into effect immediately, except for a provision of the law that creates the new crime of “Pattern of Wage Nonpayment,” which will be effective on November 1, 2019.
The key components of the new law are:
In the face of this expansive legislation, employers may wish to review their pay and recordkeeping practices and ensure they are providing written notices and have all required employee rights posters displayed in the workplace. Additionally, they may want to implement practices to promptly correct any payroll errors and provide for oversight and review of personnel decisions that are “adverse actions.”