Labor departments from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware signed a reciprocal agreement last week designed to better protect workers and employers through a newly established pipeline of information sharing and coordination of enforcement efforts, according to a press release from New Jersey’s Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
This agreement grants new powers to each state, including strategic data-sharing, interstate case referrals, and joint investigations that will greatly impact wage claim investigations, worker misclassification, workplace safety efforts, and other labor-related compliance matters. From the signed agreement:
“WHEREAS, given the geographical proximity of the State of New Jersey, the State of Delaware and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, employers often carry out their operations in both states and may engage in practices that are violative of the labor laws of each State and which erode the level playing field necessary to allow healthy business competition to flourish; …”
The agreement continues:
“The State Agencies agree to share ‘relevant information’ (including but not limited to wage claims, audit reports, investigation reports, payroll records, interview statements, judgements, orders, internal labor department records, employer government filings and submissions, employer registration records, employer position statements, lien documents, wage collection records, and any other wage enforcement records) to the extent permitted by the laws of New Jersey, Delaware and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, respectively, for the purpose of enforcing the labor laws of each state.”
“All three states have been tasked with protecting our workers, and looking out for those businesses who play by the rules,” said Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL). “This new cooperation agreement will ensure that those crossing state lines to do business are in full compliance with our laws, and employees are taking home every single penny they have earned.”
“Pennsylvania is proud to be part of this collaboration, which is truly a victory for workers and employers,” said Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. “This agreement maximizes the use of existing tools by allowing for data-sharing, joint investigations, and referrals to ensure that workers are not taken advantage of and that there is a level playing field for all employers.”
“Delaware looks forward to working together with Pennsylvania and New Jersey to do the important work of protecting workers while fostering a fair environment for businesses to grow and prosper,” said Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade. “Companies who violate Delaware labor laws will no longer be able to hide behind state lines. We look forward to adding new states to this pact to preserve the dignity of work in Delaware and throughout the region.”
The signing took place in Atlantic City during a conference of the NJ State Building and Construction Trades Council, where New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy had spoken earlier about an expansion of NJDOL’s authority to combat worker misclassification. That same day, Governor Murphy also released a 31-page comprehensive report from the Task Force on Employee Misclassification, vowing to intensify efforts to curtail the widespread and illegal practice. Misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees cheats workers out of benefits, wages, and basic labor and OSHA protections; hurts law-abiding business owners; and costs New Jersey alone tens of millions of dollars a year in lost employment-related tax revenue.