“Strategic Enforcement:” NJDOLs New Approach to Ensure Workers Earnings, Benefits

Morristown Minute

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NJDOLs new enforcement policy on workers' rights.Photo byMorristown Minute

You’ve likely read one of the many articles we’ve recently published about Stop-Work orders being issued around NJ. With a rise in these incidents, NJDOL implements a new policy.

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The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) today announced a new enforcement strategy to ensure no worker is denied any of the earnings or benefits they are entitled to under the state’s labor laws.

This new strategy – known as strategic enforcement – focuses on industries with a history of non-compliance and on those whose employees are less likely to file complaints with the Department. The Department’s new approach augments its existing complaint-driven enforcement actions.

This proactive, forward-thinking strategy adds a new dimension to our ability to safeguard workers from wage abuses and protect law-abiding employers from an unfair disadvantage when unsavory competitors illegally cut corners to keep down their labor costs,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

The Department’s first strategic enforcement initiatives focus on two industries: commercial laundromats and multi-unit residential construction.

Commercial laundromats predominantly employ women immigrants, who are often fearful of reporting wage theft and other workplace violations.

In residential construction, worker misclassification has become embedded in many companies' business models.

These targets follow months of research and were selected with the hope of making a lasting industrywide impact on compliance with state labor laws.

These laws include, but are not limited to, ensuring workers are:

  • Paid on the books
  • Declared employees, making them eligible for unemployment, workers’ compensation, and temporary disability and family leave insurance unless their employer can prove the worker meets the requirements for independent contractor status
  • Compensated at the state minimum wage rate or more
  • Paid for overtime after 40 hours of work
  • Provided paid sick and family leave time
Strategic enforcement is a proactive and coordinated effort that aims to level the field so that businesses playing by the rules can successfully compete in a dynamic economy,” said Asaro-Angelo. “By changing the behavior of employers that fail to comply, wage violations can be prevented at the source. Unfair business practices that squeeze workers and create a race to the bottom among employers will be rooted out of the industry.”

In New Jersey, workers are covered by state wage and hour laws, regardless of their immigration status, and are also protected against retaliation. Workers can find information about their rights and how to file a complaint with our Wage and Hour and Contract Compliance Division at myworkrights.nj.gov. Assistance is available in multiple languages.

Employers can benefit from a wide array of NJDOL-provided services, including compliance assistance. Information is available here.

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