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Employers Beware of “the Wall”

Connell Foley

Sep 15, 2023

Submitted by Connell Foley:

Michael A. Shadiack
Chair, Labor and Employment Law Group

Naomi Gulama
Associate, Labor and Employment Law Group

On August 8, 2023, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:1A-1.16, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) implemented a new tool intended to hold employers accountable for “failing to satisfy their outstanding liabilities to the State for violations of State wage, benefit and tax laws enforced by NJDOL.” This new tool is called the Workplace Accountability in Labor List (“the WALL”).

The WALL is a public list that includes the names of employers that have been found in violation of New Jersey State wage, benefit, and tax laws and have outstanding liabilities to the NJDOL. Examples of outstanding liabilities include unpaid wages due to workers, unemployment insurance contributions due to the State, or workers’ compensation penalties. The NJDOL has stated that the outstanding liabilities of businesses included on the WALL will be under a “final order/judgment.” Final orders/judgments are issued when a business does not pay or successfully challenge an assessment levied against it by the NJDOL for failing to meet obligations under one of the laws intended to protect workers listed in N.J.S.A. 34:1A-1.11.

The WALL is now available for download on NJDOL’s website. The NJDOL has stated that it will update the list at least monthly.

Employers whose names appear on the WALL will be unable to contract with any State entity, including agencies, counties, local government bodies, or other subdivisions.

Below is additional information about the WALL:

  • Any “person” is subject to being placed on the WALL if they are found in violation of State wage, benefit and tax laws, and with outstanding liabilities to NJDOL. N.J.S.A. 34:1A-1.16 defines “person” as any natural person, company corporate officer or principal, firm, association, corporation, contractor, subcontractor, or other entity engaged in contracting.
  • In deciding to place a business on the WALL, NJDOL considers the following nine factors:
  • Record of previous violations;
  • Previous placement on the WALL;
  • Frequency of violations by the business discovered in previous or pending cases;
  • Significance or scale of the violations;
  • Failure to pay;
  • Failure to cooperate or respond to a request to produce records, forms, documents, or proof of payments;
  • Submission of falsified or altered records, forms, documents, or proof of payment;
  • Failure to provide goods or services; and
  • Failure to comply with contract specifications.
  • If NJDOL decides to place an employer on the WALL it must first issue a Notice of Intent informing the business that NJDOL will post the business’s name on the WALL 15 business days from the date that is listed on the top of the Notice.
  • If a business receives the Notice, the business can avoid being placed on the WALL if it pays all of its outstanding liabilities in full within 20 days of receiving the Notice. If a business cannot pay its liabilities within that time frame, the business’s name will be removed from the WALL only once full payment is received by NJDOL.
  • Businesses can challenge the decision to have its name placed on the WALL by requesting a hearing in writing within 20 days of receiving a Notice from NJDOL. Additional details on how to make the request and the overall process of challenging the decision can be found here.

The implementation of the WALL is consistent with Governor Murphy’s efforts to hold employers accountable to the State’s wage and hour laws. Connell Foley provides New Jersey companies with guidance to understand and comply with wage and hour obligations. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

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