Working to Stop Wage Theft

By Michael Hill, Correspondent

Felix Lema said a construction job boss stole his wages.

Make the Road New Jersey recently helped him recover some of his pay.

“I had been owed wages for a long time by my employer. I asked him everyday please pay me, please pay me. One day he said you need to go home now you need to stop asking me and he gave me a ride home. Instead of taking me home he drove me to the Elizabeth Immigration Detention Center where the threat was deportation,” said Sara Cullinane, state director of Make the Road New Jersey who was translating Lemas’ words.

The Senate Labor Committee just approved Senate bill 1396. It would allow wage theft victims to have their claims not only heard by the state Labor Department but in municipal and superior courts, allow disorderly persons’ charges against violators and increase the statute of limitations to recover unpaid wages from two to six years.

New Jersey Working Families – the same organization behind raising the minimum wage – is leading the charge on wage theft protection.

“We have to make sure that every worker actually receives compensation,” said New Jersey Working Families Executive Director Analilia Mejia.

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