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Friday, November 20, 2020

Underpayment of Wages Impact Workers’ Compensation Claims

The underpayment of wages due workers impacts the calculation of benefits that injured workers and their dependents receive. States are now enforcing laws when inadequate wages have been paid workers.

Compensation benefits are based upon the state average weekly wage [SAWW] with a

Wages are an essential part of the calculation of workers’ compensation benefits.
limitation based upon salary paid to the worker over a period of six months prior to the date of the injury or manifestation of the accident or death. Wages are also retroactively reviewed at the end of workers’ compensation policy period to determine the amount of premium that should be paid to the workers’ compensation carrier for coverage. Additionally, wages are utilized to calculate contributions for payroll taxes both state and federal contributing to unemployment benefits and other social insurance costs.

A Camden County NJ solar contractor was cited by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) for violations of the state’s prevailing wage laws, including the failure to pay the required wage on utility work that shortchanged 33 workers of nearly $800,000 in pay.  


The NJDOL’s investigation into now-defunct Code Green Solar LLC was initiated after receiving several complaints from the company’s employees stating they were not paid appropriately for working on a project located at a manufacturing business in Hillsborough. 


The investigation also uncovered violations for unpaid and late payment of wages, lack of certified payroll records, and obstruction/hindering of the investigation. The NJDOL’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance issued an assessment against Code Green for the unpaid wages, plus penalties and fees.  The Division also issued a notice of debarment, which would disqualify Code Green from bidding on or engaging in public works for three years. Because Code Green did not request a hearing to contest the assessment or debarment, both are final. 


“New Jersey’s wage laws exist to protect workers’ rights,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Our investigators are committed to ensuring compliance with these laws, weeding out bad actors, leveling the playing field for businesses that play by the rules and getting our workers the wages they are entitled to. We look forward to delivering this money to the workers who earned it.” 


Code Green Solar LLC installed a solar field generating 1.2 megawatts of power and had applied for New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECS).  


In 2019, Code Green Solar LLC’s former president and chief executive officer Charles Kartsaklis, who previously resided in Erial (Gloucester Township), New Jersey, pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. government of millions of dollars in federally funded rebates by falsely claiming his company installed solar panels for five New Jersey businesses. 

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Blog: Workers ' Compensation

Twitter: jongelman

LinkedIn: JonGelman

LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group

Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters