Wage Theft/Unpaid Wages
On August 6 of 2019, acting Gov. Sheila Oliver signed into law significant changes to the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (WPL). The New Jersey wage payment law, historically, was a law that essentially said that an employer had to pay each employee either weekly or bi-weekly for the work that they did.
The WPL was not the same law as the Wage & Hour Law, which required that employees be paid time and a half for hours in excess of 40 in any given workweek.
The problem with the WPL until August 6 of this year was that the only damages which could be captured in a law suit were the amount of unpaid wages. As a practical matter, this made hiring an attorney effectively impossible, because nearly every wage claim involved wages which, while important to the person who earned to them, were not significant compared to the legal costs of attempting to get those wages from the employer.
This had the effect of creating a substantial injustice in New Jersey. As long as an employer didn’t steal “too much” from employees, it was not really practical to hire an attorney to hold dishonest employers accountable for stolen wages.
That has now changed as of 8-6-19. An employer who fails to pay wages earned by an employee can be sued successfully for up to twice the amount of the unpaid wage. Importantly as well, the attorney who secures that recovery can hold the dishonest employer accountable for the attorney’s fees and costs. This means that we can now assist all employees, regardless of the amount of wage that remains unpaid. And we can represent entire groups of individuals, if an employer has harmed a number sufficient to constitute a class action.
In addition, the law also now prevents any retaliation or reprisal against anyone who has made a complaint about unpaid wages or who has supported someone in making such a complaint. Any adverse job action, including, but not limited to: termination, demotion, denial of a promotion, reduction in hours, changes to a shift or schedule you can’t handle, removal of previously existing accommodations, removal of responsibilities, or any hostility, intimidation or abuse in the way that you are managed, all might constitute an adverse job action.
If you are owed wages you earned, contact Costello & Mains for a free consultation. These cases are taken on a contingent basis, which means that there is no fee unless we are successful in holding the dishonest employer accountable.
You worked for your pay. You earned it. If an unscrupulous employer is in paying you, we can help.