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Monday, July 1, 2024

NJ Wage Claim Attorney, Employer Didn’t Pay for All Hours, How Far Back Can I Claim

Employers sometimes cheat employees by failing to pay for all hours worked and unfortunately this may continue for many years. When employees finally decide to do something about their being cheated out of wages for years, they wonder how many years back a court could award them for the lost wages. The New Jersey Supreme Court recently provided clarification in Maia v. IEW Constr. Grp., 2024 N.J. LEXIS 439, argued January 3, 2024; decided May 15, 2024.

Six-year Look-back Period as Amended by the Wage Theft Act

New Jersey employers are required to timely pay their employees for all wages earned, including any overtime under the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (WPL) and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (WHL). Since its enactment, the WPL provided a private cause of action for violations under N.J.S.A. 34:11-4.7, which states in pertinent part that "each and every employee with whom any agreement in violation of this section shall be made by any such employer . . . shall have a right of civil action against any such employer for the full amount of his wages in any court of competent jurisdiction." These two wage and hour laws were amended by the Wage Theft Act (WTA) on August 6, 2019, (the 2019 amendments), to include a new retaliation cause of action, and extension of the statute of 6limitations to file a claim for such unpaid wages from two to six years. This is referred to as the “six-year look-back period” to recover losses. Employees who file a lawsuit suit to recover unpaid wages may recover their unpaid wages within six years prior to their filing of such lawsuit. Under the 2019 amendments they may be awarded liquidated damages up to 200% of the back wages that the employer owes them, and their costs of litigation and reasonable attorney’s fees.

After the enactment of the WTA, there was a split among the courts in cases where the six-year look-back period included periods the employees were not paid prior to August 6, 2019, the date when the Wage Theft Act, the 2019 amendments to the WPL and WHL, took effect.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently clarified that the six-year look-back period does not include wage payment losses prior to August 6, 2019 in Maia v. IEW Construction Group

In Maia v. IEW Construction Group, New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether plaintiffs' claims as to conduct that preceded the effective date of the 2019 amendments to the Wage Payment Law (WPL) and the Wage and Hour Law (WHL), were properly dismissed.

In this matter the Plaintiffs were employed as laborers for defendant IEW Construction Group, which required them to perform "pre-shift" and "post-shift" work. Plaintiff Maia began work for the employer IEW in April 2019, and from early May 2019, he was not paid for his "pre-shift" and "post-shift" work. Plaintiff Howarth began working for IEW in April 2020 and was never paid for "pre-shift" and "post-shift" responsibilities.

Both were laid off in November 2021 and in April 2022, they filed a class action complaint alleging in part that employer IEW violated the Wage and Hour Law and Wage Payment Law.

The trial judge held dismissed plaintiffs' claims for alleged non-payment of wages that arose prior to the 2019 Amendments’ effective date of August 6, 2019. The Appellate Division reversed. The NJ Supreme Court granted leave to appeal.

NJ Supreme Court held that the six-year look-back period applied prospectively to conduct that occurred on or after August 6, 2019, but not retroactively to conduct that occurred before August 6, 2019.

If You Have Been Cheated of Your Wages, Suspended, Had Your Hours Slashed, or Were Terminated or Threatened with Termination

If you have been cheated out of your wages, suspended, had your hours slashed, or were terminated or threatened with termination for demanding wage and overtime pay for which you are entitled, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Don’t Sit on Your Rights!

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing employees who suffered illegal wage payment. If you find yourself in a situation where your employer is cheating you out of your wages or inadequate job security because of the aforementioned issues, you should contact this office today for a free consultation.

I am successful in bringing employee lawsuits against governmental entities and private employers and recovering money for victims’ wrongful wage payment, employer wage theft, and other illegal activity. If you think you are being pushed out of your job or retaliated against, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law represents workers throughout the entire state, including Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Orange, East Orange, Trenton, Paterson, Montclair, Elizabeth, North Brunswick, Cherry Hill, Vineland, Union, Plainfield, Hamilton Township, Lakewood, Edison, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Franklin, Lakewood, and every NJ County, including Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Essex, Monmouth, Somerset, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, Morris, Gloucester, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden Counties.



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