New law will protect workers from wage theft

BY Julie Daurio, Producer |

A new law aims to ensure employers pay workers what they’ve earned.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver on Tuesday signed legislation that strengthens penalties against employers if they fail to pay workers wages, benefits or overtime.

“Today we want to send a message to employers — bad employers — that we are not going to tolerate the exploitation of any worker,” Oliver said.

Employers who violate wage and hour laws would be required to pay increased fines of up to $10,000 and damages equaling triple the amount of lost earnings.

The law also extends the statute of limitations for employees to file a claim from two to six years and strengthens anti-retaliation protections for workers who speak out.

Anti-wage theft legislation is seen as a companion to the state’s efforts to raise the minimum wage.

New Jersey’s minimum wage rose to $10 an hour on July 1. It will continue to increase by $1 a year until it reaches $15 in 2024.

“If we didn’t take care to ensure New Jersey employees receive their rightful wage, we would fail many of those we are trying to lift up,” said Sen. Loretta Weinberg. “Giving employees greater power and protections is an important step in the path towards everyone earning a living wage.”