Gov. Chris Christie today conditionally vetoed legislation that would have increased penalties for wage violations that could have included businesses that simply make honest mistakes.

The deliberate failure to pay wages to employees should not be tolerated, but NJBIA opposed A-5072/S-1396 because it is not consistent in distinguishing between negligent, and willful and knowing violations.  The conditional veto would address this problem, and NJBIA would support the bill if the Legislature accepts the Governor’s recommendations.

“As currently written, however, the bill’s language is inconsistent and could result in inadvertent violations being treated in an overly punitive manner,” said Michael Wallace, NJBIA’s vice president of Government Affairs.

NJBIA also opposed the legislation because it broadens the definition of retaliation under state wage and hour laws to include any adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee making a complaint about a wage not being paid.

“Courts have interpreted adverse actions differently,” Wallace pointed out. “If an employer is forced to make a change to the employee’s job responsibilities or take disciplinary action as a result of an employee action within the 90 days of a wage complaint, this could be considered an adverse action under the terms of this legislation.”