Wage Theft Retaliation
If you were fired, demoted, had your hours or pay cut or were retaliated against in other ways because you complained about your employer’s failure to pay you, you are legally protected from retaliation. That is because when you complain about improper pay practices, you are protected from retaliation by various different state and federal laws. Those laws include Section 15(a)(3) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the New Jersey Wage Payment Law, N.J.S.A. 34:11-4.10, and even our State’s whistleblowing law, the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, (CEPA). The anti-retaliation protections of those laws apply whether you complain to your employer or a supervisor, file a complaint with a governmental agency or the court about improper pay, assist in a governmental agency’s investigation into your employer’s pay practices, testify in a legal proceeding regarding improper pay, and/or advise co-workers of their rights under the law.What Is Wage Theft?
Getting paid for the work you perform is fundamental to the employer-employee relationship. Yet, the wage theft attorneys at Lenzo & Reis have witnessed the growing problem of wage theft at both at the national and state levels. In general terms, wage theft involves employers’ failure to properly or fully compensate employees. While wage theft may take various forms, it commonly involves the denial of minimum and overtime pay to workers, the failure to properly compensate employees for all work performed, withholding of workers’ last paychecks, and/or the failure to pay employees on time as required by law.What Has New Jersey Done to Address Wage Theft?
To address the problem of wage theft, New Jersey enacted one of the toughest wage theft laws, with some of the strongest anti-retaliation provisions, in the country on August 6, 2019. Interestingly, the Wage Theft Act is neither a newly enacted nor amendment to an existing civil statute; instead, it is an amendment to the New Jersey Criminal Code, N.J.S.A. 2C:40A-2. While still a relatively new law, our lawyers at Lenzo & Reis are well-versed in the protections of the Wage Theft Act.Does the New Jersey Wage Theft Law Prohibit Retaliation?
Under New Jersey’s Wage Theft Law, it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees who file a complaint or otherwise complain of wage theft. The law defines retaliation as firing or otherwise discriminating against employees who
- institute or are about to institute actions under the Wage Theft Law,
- complained to the employer about wage theft,
- informed an appropriate state actor about an employer’s wage theft, and/or
- informed any employee of the employer about rights under the state wage and hour laws.
Additionally, the New Jersey Wage Theft Law provides that the existence of retaliation can be preliminarily established if an adverse action is taken against an employee within 90 days of the employee filing a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor or in court for a violation of the wage and hour laws. An employer can then only overcome that presumption of retaliation by proving by clear and convincing evidence, which is a high legal standard, that the action was taken for legally permissible reasons.What Compensation Can I Recover If am Retaliated Against in Violation of the Wage Theft Law?
If you are successful in pursuing an illegal retaliation claim under the Wage Theft Law, your employer must
- pay you for all wages that you were denied as well as any and all compensation you may have lost if you were fired,
- pay you 2x your lost wages if you were fired,
- pay you the reasonable cost of filing suit including your attorneys’ fees, and
- if you were fired, offer you reinstatement unless reinstatement is prohibited by law.
Yes, employers who retaliate against employees who file a complaint for a wage violation, will be charged with a disorderly persons offense and, if convicted, must pay certain fines.What Should I Do If I am Retaliated Against for Complaining of Wage Theft?
It can be very overwhelming and nerve-wracking to try to deal with wage theft at work. But you do not need to confront your employer on your own because New Jersey’s anti-retaliation lawyers and wage theft attorneys Lenzo & Reis have successfully represented thousands of employees in various types of improper pay, wage theft, and retaliation claims. Our wage theft lawyers not only fight for your pay but also for your dignity. Contact New Jersey’s wage theft attorneys today either by phone at (973) 845-9922 or by e-mail by clicking here.