Workers at a automotive wash in Elizabeth, New Jersey, are reportedly submitting a lawsuit in opposition to their employer, alleging that they’ve been underpaid for years, along with being refused pay for hours labored extra time.
In an announcement offered to local news outlet NJ.com by New York lawyer Steven Arenson, the eight staff say their employer, Caribbean Car Wash, paid them lower than $5 an hour, whereas additionally denying them any extra time pay—regardless of the workers working 11-hour days as many as six or seven days every week.
“Unfortunately, many workers don’t know their rights and are afraid of being fired if they speak up,” Arenson stated in an announcement shared on Monday.
“The law protects workers who have been paid illegally, regardless of their immigration status, and New Jersey’s new law is designed to protect precisely the kind of low-wage, vulnerable workforce exploited in this case,” he stated.
While New Jersey’s minimal wage not too long ago rose to $10 an hour for many staff, it’s anticipated to rise once more to $15 by 2024.
Yet staff at Caribbean Car Wash have been paid lower than half of the present minimal wage.
In their lawsuit, they’re reportedly looking for unpaid wages and compensation for hours labored extra time.
The authorized motion comes after Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver signed a invoice earlier this month cracking down on employers who fail to pay correct wages.
Aimed at combating “wage theft,” the Democratic-sponsored laws will increase damages and fines in opposition to employers caught failing to pay wages or extra time, in addition to offering advantages, to staff who’re owed cash.
In addition to growing punishments for employers who fail to pay workers on time, the invoice additionally permits staff to pursue unpaid wages courting way back to six years. Under earlier legal guidelines, the cap was set on the two-year mark.
“We want to send a message to employers—the bad employers: That in New Jersey, we are not going to tolerate the exploitation of any worker,” Oliver stated after signing the invoice.
In a separate assertion, State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who sponsored the measure, harassed that “more often than not, it is those at the lowest rungs of our socioeconomic ladder that are taken advantage of by their employer.”
“It falls on us, therefore, to defend those who don’t generally have the means to defend themselves,” Weinberg stated.
Newsweek has reached out to Caribbean Car Wash and Arenson’s workplace for remark.