Senate Passes Cruz-Perez and Singleton Bill to Improve Labor Rights in the Construction Industry

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Troy Singleton that would require employers in the construction industry to notify employees of certain rights was passed by the Senate today.

“We need to protect construction workers’ rights.  Our bill will allow workers to know their rights, which will promote safety while they work on the job,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester).  “The construction industry in New Jersey is diverse.  We have immigrant workers who do not speak English.  The bill will make sure that the rights of workers are written in other languages as well so all workers will be aware of what their rights are.”

“Clearly, it is counter intuitive to grant rights that protect our construction workforce and then not inform them of those protections,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This bill would prevent these laborers from being taken advantage of by ensuring that their rights are posted and are available in their native languages.”

Unlike most other labor laws in New Jersey, the “Construction Industry Independent Contractor Act” currently does not contain requirements for posting and notifying laborers of workforce protections such as the minimum wage or overtime.

The bill, S-345, would require employers that are subject to its provisions to conspicuously post notification of the rights of employees to unemployment benefits, minimum wage, overtime and other federal and State workplace protections, as well as the protections against retaliation and the penalties provided under New Jersey’s “Construction Industry Independent Contractor Act.”

The bill would require that the notification must be provided in English, Spanish or other languages required by the commissioner.  Under the bill, employers who violate these provisions would be guilty of a disorderly person’s offense and, upon conviction, be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,500 for a first violation, and up to $5,000 for any subsequent violation within a five-year period.

The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 36-0, and next heads to the Assembly for further consideration.