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Employers Beware: New Jersey Enacts One of the Toughest “Wage Theft” Laws in the Country

On August 6, 2019, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed the New Jersey Wage Theft Act (WTA) into law. The law has been touted by proponents as the toughest wage theft statute in the country. Notwithstanding its name, the WTA goes far beyond attempting to prevent and punish intentional “wage theft” by significantly expanding the liability even the best-intentioned employers will face for state wage law violations.

New Jersey Passes the Broadest Wage Theft Law in Country With Dire Consequences for Employers

Introduction: On the heels of the broadest Pay Equity law in the country, New Jersey has just passed the broadest wage theft law in the country, which is certain to lead to increased litigation. Unwary employers may not only be facing insurmountable fines and penalties, but potentially jail time for even minor violations of the new law. The new law establishes treble damages and criminal penalties for non-payment of wages to New Jersey employees. More importantly, there is a presumption of retaliation for any adverse employment action that occurs for months after an employee complains about their wages. The presumption is rebuttable, but only if the employer produces clear and convincing evidence. The law further extends the statute of limitations to six years and allows for reinstatement of employees.

New Jersey Adds Sharp Teeth, and Employer Notice Duty, to Wage and Hour Law

On August 6, 2019, New Jersey enacted its Wage Theft Law, transforming the state’s wage and hour laws into one of the most robust in the country. As discussed below, the law substantially expands the civil and criminal recourse available for nonpayment of wages and for retaliation. Among other things, the statute broadens potential individual, and joint and successor liability to employers and certain officers and agents. Most components of the law took immediate effect.

New Jersey Passes New Salary History Ban

New Jersey has enacted a new law prohibiting employers from seeking or relying on job applicants’ salary history.

New Jersey Wage Theft Law Increases Employer Liability for Wage and Hour Violations

New Jersey’s Wage Theft Act (WTA) significantly enhances employer penalties under the state’s wage and hour laws by adding liquidated damages and providing extra protections for employee retaliation claims. In addition, the WTA makes client-employers and labor contractors jointly and severally liable “for any violations of the provisions of State wage and hour laws,” including those on retaliation. In fact, the WTA declares any waiver of its “joint and several liability” section “void and unenforceable.”

New Jersey to Require Certain Employers to Provide Pretax Transportation Fringe Benefits

On March 1, 2019, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill No. 1567 (S1567) into law, making New Jersey the first state to require certain employers to provide pretax transportation fringe benefits to employees.

New Jersey Court Brings ‘Clarity and Uniformity’ to Analysis of Restrictive Covenants

The New Jersey Appellate Division has clarified the analysis required to determine the effect of restrictive covenant agreements (RCAs) and offered guidance to practitioners drafting RCAs under New Jersey law in a decision on six consolidated actions. ADP, LLC v. Kusins, No. A-4664-16T1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. July 26, 2019).

New Jersey Latest State to Restrict Salary History Inquiries

A new law will prohibit employers in New Jersey from screening job applicants based on their salary history or requiring that applicants' salary history satisfy any minimum or maximum criteria.

New Jersey Joins Jurisdictions Banning Salary History Inquiries

Executive Summary: New Jersey employers will no longer be able to ask applicants for salary history or use an applicant’s prior wages, salary, or benefits to make compensation decisions unless the information is voluntarily disclosed by the applicant. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Amendments Expand Employment Protections

New Jersey has expanded its medical marijuana program and—for the first time since the state enacted the law—adopted formal protections for employees and job applicants who use what is now called “medical cannabis.” The amendments took effect on July 2, 2019, when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed Assembly Bill (AB) 20, the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, into law.
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