TRENTON – Acting Governor Sheila Oliver today signed S1790 into law, which will help ensure workers in New Jersey are able to bring home the wages they earn without fear of theft. This bill enhances enforcement of New Jersey’s wage and hour laws by holding employers accountable for unpaid wages, benefits, or overtime as required by law through increased damages and fines, which make victims of wage theft eligible to receive both the wages owed and liquidated damages of 200 percent of wages owed.
“We must ensure that every hardworking individual in New Jersey receives the wages they worked hard to earn,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver. “I am proud to sign this legislation that will protect the rights of workers, furthering the Murphy-Oliver Administration’s commitment to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey through protecting the right to earn a fair wage.”
“In signing this legislation, the Murphy Administration sends a clear message to workers that we have their backs and will protect them from being disciplined for reporting unpaid wages. And, it sends a clear message to the vast majority of businesses that we are aggressively pursuing their dishonest competitors with penalties for wage theft that are now stronger than ever,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Thanks to the Legislature, worker advocates, and this administration, today is a very good day for New Jersey’s workers and employers.”
Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Loretta Weinberg and Linda Greenstein, and Assemblymembers Annette Quijano, Pamela Lampitt, and Wayne DeAngelo.
“Wage theft is immoral, intolerable and yet, far too common,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg. “More often than not, it is those at the lowest rungs of our socioeconomic ladder that are taken advantage of by their employer. It falls on us, therefore, to defend those who don’t generally have the means to defend themselves. In July, we took our first step to a $15 minimum wage but 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. Giving employees greater power and protections is an important step in the path towards everyone earning a living wage.”
“The unscrupulous employers robbing the hard working people of New Jersey of their time and money need to face the consequences of their actions,” said Senator Linda Greenstein. “When wage theft is apparent, there must be effective laws in place to protect the workers of our state and to punish the employers. Wage theft is a serious crime and it is about time that our laws reflect this.”
“Workers across New Jersey deserve laws that works in their best interest,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “This law does just that. Employees in New Jersey are to be treated fairly and legally, with absolutely no exceptions. I am proud to fight for workers’ rights in New Jersey and to sponsor this legislation which I know will benefit workers across the state.”
“Every individual employed in New Jersey is entitled to the legal wages their employer has agreed to pay them, including overtime,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “In order for New Jersey to prosper in the ways we know are possible, we must put New Jersey workers first, and I am honored to sponsor an important piece of legislation which shows we have the backs of our workforce.”
“Above all else, this law is about workers’ rights,” said Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo. “Employers in New Jersey should be held to a high standard to treat their employees with the decency and legality they deserve. No one should be withheld one penny of the wages they are legally entitled to.”
“Today, New Jersey signed into law some of the strongest anti-wage theft protections in the country. No worker should fear that their employer will steal their hard earned wages by failing to pay overtime or hourly wages. For too long, unscrupulous employers were rewarded by New Jersey state law. That stops today. This is a victory for workers, for our economy and for fairness. On behalf of Make the Road New Jersey, I would like to express our gratitude to Governor Murphy, Lt. Gov Sheila Oliver, Assemblywoman Quijano and Senator Weinberg for their years of commitment to ensuring the anti-wage theft bill becomes law” said Roberto Sanchez, a member of Make the Road New Jersey, a community-based immigrant and workers rights organization based in Elizabeth and Passaic.
“A day of work is a day paid. There is no middle ground,” said Lou Kimmel, Executive Director of New Labor in New Jersey. “Millions of unpaid wages result in a lack of reinvestment into local economies. When wages are stolen we all lose. With this law, we all win.”
“New Jersey workers lose out on millions that they are rightfully owed every year due to wage theft,” said Brandon McKoy, President of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Whether it’s unpaid overtime or stolen tips, wage theft often harms low-paid workers already struggling to get by. The new law signed by Acting Governor Sheila Oliver follows best practices from across the nation and will make New Jersey a national leader in protecting workers from abusive and illegal cost-cutting measures. Tighter enforcement not only benefits workers, but businesses as well, as it levels the playing field for employers who already do the right thing and follow the law.”