New Jersey’s employment laws protect workers in this state from unlawful discrimination and retaliation, guarantee a minimum wage for many employees, and ensure that they will receive overtime pay for overtime work. In order for an individual to enjoy many of these legal protections, however, an employer-employee relationship must exist. Certain employment arrangements do not meet many legal definitions of “employment,” leaving some workers with no recourse if their employers underpay them or subject them to other forms of unfair treatment. A new law in New Jersey, the Temporary Worker Bill of Rights (TWBOR), will expand legal protections for workers employed by temporary staffing agencies. The law will take effect in two stages later this year.
The bill that became the TWBOR, A1474, made its way through the New Jersey Legislature for over a year before it finally became law in February 2023. The Assembly addressed the need for the law in the section on findings and declarations. More than 127,000 workers in New Jersey are employed by temporary staffing agencies. This includes around one hundred licensed agencies and an unknown number of unlicensed ones.
Temporary workers receive pay from their agencies for work performed for clients. According to AB1474, they earn an average of 41% less than employees who perform similar work as part of a formal employment relationship. Black and Latino workers are overrepresented among temporary workers when compared to overall employment in New Jersey. Temporary workers are generally more vulnerable to a wide range of exploitative or abusive practices, hence the need for the TWBOR.
A similar law affecting the construction industry took effect in 2021. That law deals with “labor contractors” that provide construction workers to client businesses for temporary labor. Each time a labor contractor assigns a worker to a client, it must certify that it is in compliance with all state and federal laws regarding matters like wages, workplace safety, and workers’ compensation insurance. Violations of the law may lead to civil fines, but the law does not allow workers to bring private causes of action.
The TWBOR goes much farther than the 2021 law. It applies to temporary workers in a wide range of industries that use temporary labor, including food preparation, building and grounds maintenance, construction, and transportation. Two provisions of the law take effect on May 7, 2023. First, agencies and their clients may not retaliate against workers who exercise their rights under the TWBOR. Temporary staffing agencies must also provide workers with written notice with each new assignment that includes:
– The name and contact information of the agency, the client worksite, and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD);
– The wage rate;
– A description of the work to be performed;
– The length of the work assignment; and
– Any special requirements such as safety equipment.
Other provisions will take effect on August 5, 2023. The most notable provision states that agencies may not pay temporary workers less than the average amount that the client pays its employees for comparable work. The LWD may assess fines for violations, and workers may file civil suits against agencies and clients.
If you believe your employer has violated your legal rights, an experienced and knowledgeable employment attorney can help you assert a claim for damages. The Resnick Law Group advocates for workers in New Jersey and New York in claims under both federal and state law. Please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.