Has your employer failed to pay you all wages, compensation and benefits due?
Has your employer failed to pay you on time?
Has your employer retaliated or discriminated against you for complaining about unpaid wages and compensation?
If so, a new wage and hour law passed this month affords you new and important rights. This includes the right to sue your employer in court and receive damages. Your attorney may also receive reasonable attorney fees for bringing an action.
On Aug. 6, 2019, Acting New Jersey Governor Sheila Oliver signed into law A-2903/S-1790, intended to provide strict enforcement of the right of employees to receive wages, compensation or benefits. Here are key provisions:
- An employer who fails to pay compensation or benefits within 30 days after they are due is guilty of a disorderly person’s offense. Benefits include health benefits, pensions, medical treatment, disability compensation and workers’ compensation, including death benefits to dependents of workers who have died as a result of their employment.
- The law now allows you up to six years (up from two years) to file a complaint in court.
- Complaints may also be filed with the Department of Labor when the amount in dispute does not exceed $50,000,00 (up from a $30,000.00 limit) exclusive of costs.
- Your potential remedies include return of your unpaid wages plus damages equal to double the amount of wages lost and costs of an action. Your attorney may also receive reasonable attorney fees for bringing the action.
- You may bring an action in court on your own behalf as well as on behalf of other employees similarly situated to you. The court can award you damages plus the cost of bringing suit.
- Depending on the number of wage violations, the employer, including its officers, may be subject to varying amounts of fines and even imprisonment.
- An employer who one time makes an honest mistake in payment who promptly pays the employee may be exempt from a penalty.
- “Employers” in violation of the wage laws, including people who buy or inherit a business from someone else, may be found guilty of violating the wage and hour law.
- Employers in violation of the wage laws are also subject to audit by the New Jersey Department of Labor.
- It is illegal to fire or discriminate or otherwise retaliate against an employee for complaining in good faith to an employer, co-employees, an attorney or testifying about unpaid wages or compensation.
- An employee fired within 90 days of making a complaint is presumed to have been fired in retaliation unless the employer can show by clear and convincing evidence the firing was unrelated to the wage complaint.
- In a case of a retaliatory firing, the employer is required to offer the employee reinstatement to his or her job.
- The employer cannot use as a defense to the claim the fact that the employee had previously agreed to a lesser wage.
The great news for employees is that New Jersey has greatly strengthened its commitment to ensuring that workers are paid for work performed. Now it is your job to be vigilant in reading, understanding and protecting your rights. If you believe that any of the above rights have been violated, then the authors of this article would be happy to receive a telephone call from you to discuss further. Please call the telephone numbers below for more
The information contained in this article is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. If you need help with a specific legal problem, contact a qualified attorney or feel free to contact Fred Shahrooz Scampato David Rostan or, attorneys who focus their practice in employment law. Fred can be reached at 908-301-9095, by email at Scampato@njlaborlaw.com or by visiting his website www.njlaborlaw.com. David can be reached at 973-520-8301, by email at email@example.com, or by visiting his web site www.davidrostanlaw.com.