JERSEY CITY’S WAGE THEFT ORDINANCE FAQs
NEW LAW EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 1, 2015
The Jersey City Municipal Council
recently passed the Jersey City Wage Theft Ordinance, requiring
every applicant for a business license or renewal of a license to sign a
certification under the penalty of perjury that it has no outstanding judgments
against it for unpaid wages to its workers. Any Jersey City business that is
found liable for wage theft (either by a court of law or by the New Jersey
Department of Labor) must demonstrate that it has paid its workers what it owes
within 90 days of any judgment or appeal, or risk suspension of its business
license. View or Download Original Ordinance here.
Below are some of the most frequently
asked questions about the Jersey City Wage Theft Ordinance and their
answers. Versions of these frequently asked questions can be downloaded here
FAQs in Spanish
FAQs in Tagalog
Below are answers in English to
frequently asked questions asked by businesses and their workers:
does Jersey City’s Wage Theft Ordinance do?
Jersey City’s Wage Theft Ordinance
deters employers from engaging in wage theft by linking established wage theft
violations to the City’s licensing authority. Any Jersey City business that is
found liable for wage theft (either in court, or by the NJ Dep’t of Labor) must
demonstrate that it has paid its workers what it owes within 90 days of any
judgment or appeal, or risk suspension of its business license.
enforces Jersey City’s Wage Theft Ordinance?
The Wage Theft Ordinance will be
enforced by the City Department or Division responsible for a given business’s
license to operate in Jersey City, which may include the Department of Health
& Human Services or Division of Commerce.
For example, a restaurant seeking a food establishment license from the
Department of Health & Human Services must certify to that Department that
it has no outstanding judgments for wage theft against it.
information must businesses provide in their certifications to the City?
Businesses must certify whether there
have been any judgments or decisions against them for unpaid wages within the
24 months prior to their license applications.
If a business has a judgment or decision against it, the business must
either certify the dates, location, and nature of the wage theft and its
payment of restitution to the employees, or certify that it is appealing the
judgment or decision.
businesses will be impacted by Jersey City’s Wage Theft Ordinance?
Every applicant for a business license
or renewal of a license must certify under the penalty of perjury that there
are no outstanding judgments for unpaid wages against it. The City expects that
the majority of businesses are following the law and paying their employees their
rightful wages. Only those businesses
who try to evade their responsibilities or who lie on their certification to
the City will face suspension under the Ordinance.
happens if a business provides false information in its certification to the
Any business that falsely certifies its
compliance with the Ordinance may have its license revoked and could be subject
to prosecution. Businesses will be
certifying their compliance with the Ordinance under the penalty of perjury,
and false statements to the government will be dealt with appropriately.
the City be investigating or prosecuting claims of wage theft?
Employees who believe they are not being paid their rightful wages must
protect their rights either by filing a claim with the New Jersey Department of
Labor and Workforce Development, Wage and Hour Division, which investigates
employers’ payment practices, or filing a lawsuit. The City will not be investigating local
my business has been found liable for a violation of wage theft which is
outstanding can I transfer the business license?
No license shall be transferred to or from an applicant, licensee or
business entity that has been found liable of a violation and not cured by the
appropriate judicial or administrative agency.
will the City find out whether an applicant has had a prior violation of wage
Each year the City will file an OPRA
Request with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Wage
and Hour Division requesting any wage claim forms filed against a licensee
during the previous twenty-four (24) months.
must a business do if the City contacts it about an outstanding wage theft
Businesses contacted by the City about
a wage theft violation will have 30 days to demonstrate either payment to the
aggrieved employees or appeal of the judgment or decision. Failure to comply within 30 days will result
in suspension of the business’s license until it shows that it has paid its
employees what it owes.
will this Ordinance go into effect?
The City ordinance went into effect on
October 1, 2015.
is “Wage Theft”?
Wage theft occurs when workers are not
paid their legally or contractually promised wages, such as minimum wage or
overtime. It can also occur when an
employer does not provide workers their last paycheck when they leave a job,
steals tips, engages in payroll fraud, misclassifies an employee as an
independent contractor, or does not pay the worker at all. Wage theft is illegal under Federal, State,
and local law.
big a problem is wage theft?
Wage theft is a serious problem
nationwide that can occur in any field or industry, including retail,
restaurants, home health care, and salons.
Day laborers, non-English speaking workers, and undocumented immigrants
tend to be most at risk of wage theft as they are often paid “off the books”
and are uninformed about their rights.
The following statistics provide a sense of the problem:
In FY 2014, the U.S. Dep’t of Labor
recovered $280 million in wage/hour violations
Between 2008 and 2013, the number of
claims filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) increased 146% (from
5,302 to 7,764)
existing laws cover wage and hour abuses?
Wage and hour laws exist at the
federal, state, and local levels—including Jersey City and Hudson County living
wage laws—but wage theft violations are often hard to enforce because most
employees do not even realize they are being underpaid or misclassified. Low-wage workers often do not speak English
or fear retaliation from employers for complaining. In addition, the time and cost of going to
court for a wage claim often deters workers from asserting their rights.
should workers do if they suspect they are victims of wage theft?
Workers who suspect their employers are
not paying them their rightful wages should contact the NJ Department of Labor,
Wage & Hour Division at the phone numbers and addresses below. Information
and claims forms are available on the Department of Labor’s website on how to
file a claim:
Division of Wage and Hour Compliance
P.O. Box 389
Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development
Wage and Hour Compliance
1 John Fitch Plaza, #rd Floor Trenton, NJ 08611