On behalf of our member companies that provide more than 1 million jobs in the state and make the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) the largest statewide business association in the country, I am writing to express our opposition to S1970.
The bill would impose enhanced enforcement procedures, remedies and a variety of administrative sanctions against employers for violating certain wage and hour laws. The bill would also create new liabilities under the current wage and hour laws.
While we share the belief that the failure to pay wages should not be tolerated, we have the following concerns with the legislation in its current form.
First, while the bill does attempt to distinguish between negligent and willful and knowingly violations, the language is not consistent throughout the bill which could result in unintentional behavior being treated in an overly punitive manner.
Second, the bill unnecessarily broadens the definition of retaliation under State wage and hour laws to include any adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee making a complaint about a wage not being paid. Courts have interpreted adverse actions differently. If an employer is forced to make a change to the employee’s job responsibilities or take disciplinary action as a result of an employee action within the 90 days of a wage complaint, under the bill this could be considered an adverse action.
Finally, the bill includes a provision that a client employer and a labor contractor providing workers to the client company would be subject to joint and several liability and share civil legal responsibility for any violations of the provisions of the State wage and hour laws. We feel this provision is overly burdensome and punitive and, therefore, should be removed from the bill.
For these reasons, NJBIA opposes the bill and we encourage you to vote “NO” on S1790.