Effective July 13, 2010, New Jersey employers who fail to pay and report appropriate wages, benefits and taxes for their employees risk suspension or revocation of state business licenses, including the certificates of incorporation and partnership, liquor licenses and public works contractor authorizations. This law supplements the existing penalties in place for such failures and provides for audits of offending employers and heightened penalties. Much discretion, however, is left to the New Jersey Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development who is authorized to conduct the audits and assess these penalties. The law even contains a non-discrimination provision protecting employees who inquire or complain about possible violations and providing for remedies that include reinstatement, damages, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages in the event of a violation.
This bill was designed to enhance the penalties against repeat offenders of the state’s law, especially those who are paying their employees under the table. However, many who opposed the legislation viewed it as redundant of existing law that already provided for criminal and other administrative penalties against offending employers. This law is yet another reminder to employers to maintain complete and accurate records regarding employee wages, benefits and taxes and to ensure proper payment to all employees.
We will keep you apprised of developments as July 13 approaches and the Commissioner issues the postings and written employee notification documents contemplated by the Act.