A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Paul Moriarty, Wayne DeAngelo, and Nick Chiaravalloti revising part of the Prevailing Wage Act was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee on Monday.
The bill (A-1852) provides that an employer who violates any provisions of the Prevailing Wage Act is, upon conviction of a first or second violation, guilty of a disorderly persons offense. In addition, upon conviction of a third or subsequent offense, an employer would be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
“There are bad actors in New Jersey who have found it more cost effective to pay the penalty for wage and hour violations rather than pay their employees full wages,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “The penalties for violations of New Jersey’s Wage and Hour laws have not been updated in nearly three decades it is critical that adjustments be made to protect our workers and ensure that they are fairly paid for their labor. Our workers are a priority in New Jersey, and this bill would increase paycheck security.”
This measure would increase the fine amounts as well as imprisonment time if wage theft occurs. A first violation would be no less than $500 but would maintain the maximum fine of no more than $1,000. For a second violation, the fine would be increased to no less than $1,000 and no more than $2,000. Finally, upon constituting a crime of the fourth degree, the employer would be fined no less than $2,000 and no more than $10,000; subject to imprisonment for up to 18 months, or both.
“This piece of legislation goes hand in hand with the discussion of increasing the minimum wage for our workers,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Simply put, New Jersey employees have the fundamental right to their hard-earned money, and this bill would ease the worry of whether they will be short-changed or taken advantage of in terms of what they are owed.”
“Wage theft is not uncommon in New Jersey,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This is especially true for our restaurant workers, home healthcare aids, and retail workers. We have a responsibility to ensure our employees are given what they were legally and contractually promised, and this bill will help to do just that.”
Common forms of wage theft include non-payment of overtime, not giving workers their last paycheck after leaving a job, not paying for all the hours worked, and not paying minimum wage.
“The goal of this bill is to combat wage theft by implementing significant financial penalties and the possibility of jail time on repeat offenders,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “By doing this, we will decrease the amount of wage theft incidents in New Jersey and increase the safety and protection of our hard-working residents.”