Taking a Bigger Bite out of Wage Theft in the Garden State

Two central New Jersey towns are attempting to crack down on employers who illegally withhold wages from workers — tying local business licenses to compliance with state wage laws.

The new rules, adopted by New Brunswick in December and Princeton on Monday, give the towns the ability to refuse to renew the license of businesses that have been found guilty either in court or by the state Department of Labor of wage theft — not paying for all hours worked, not paying at least the minimum wage, or not paying overtime.

Activists who helped craft the local ordinances say they could be a model for other communities and are reaching out to expand the wage-theft provisions to other towns. They also hope the local efforts can spur action on a state bill — A1317 — that would make it easier for workers to file wage-theft claims and would increase penalties on those convicted of wage theft.

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