October 27, 2023 Written by: Erik Derr, Esq. & David Frankel, Esq.
The New Jersey Legislature, apparently adopting the mantra that shame is a great motivator, recently implemented the Workplace Accountability Labor List (the “WALL”), N.J.S.A. § 34:1A-1.16, which creates a public list of all persons and entities found in violation of any state wage, benefit, or tax laws. Accessible on the nj.gov website, the WALL publicizes the name of the employer, the statutes that were violated, the date of the final order/judgment against the employer, and the date of the WALL posting. An employer placed on the WALL is also prohibited from contracting with any public body (state and local governments and agencies).
It is worth noting that while the WALL publishes violations of the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act, the New Jersey State Wage and Hour Law, workers’ compensation law, and others (full list found in N.J.S.A. § 34:1A-1.11), an employer’s information only gets published upon the entry of a “final order”, meaning a final administrative determination of the commissioner or appropriate agency officer following the adjudication of the matter. If, after a final order is entered, and prior to the posting on the Department of Labor (the “Department”) website, the responding party satisfies the liability or reaches a settlement on the outstanding balance, then the posting will not occur. Once posted, an employer’s information shall be removed from the WALL within fifteen (15) days from the satisfaction of an outstanding liability.
How can an employer avoid the WALL? The easiest way is to dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” as an employer to ensure compliance with all relevant employment regulations. If it is too late for that, however, and a final order has already been entered, the Department must provide notice to an employer fifteen (15) days prior posting on the public list. The notice must include the contact information for the Department, a description of the procedure for removing the posting, the details of the violation, notification that the employer will be prohibited from public contracting, and notification that a hearing can be requested within twenty (20) days of receipt of intent to place on the public list.
If an employer requests a hearing, the Department will not post the business on the public list until the appeal is resolved. The hearing process, however, is not another bite at the apple for employers to challenge the underlying liability. Rather, the hearing process is to determine whether the employer has satisfied any outstanding violations and whether the notice of intent to post the employer’s information on the WALL was in error.
Upon satisfaction of all outstanding liabilities, an employer may be removed from the WALL within fifteen (15) days and it will receive notice that it may resume public contracting.
Being subject to the WALL may affect your business in numerous ways, and violations of this Legislation can result in financial penalties. If you need any assistance regarding the Act and Rules, please reach out to the Staffing Team at Becker LLC and we will be happy to offer some guidance.