As an hourly employee in New Jersey, you work hard to earn a living. It would be devastating to find out that your employer has been cheating you out of the wages you earned. Unfortunately, this is all too common and, unless you know what you are entitled to under state and federal law, it’s easy to be a victim of unfair wage & hour practices. We want you to understand your rights so that you can hold your employer responsible for paying you what you are owed.
Federal and State Protections for Hourly Workers
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum standards for employers to follow to protect workers’ rights to fair wages and reasonable hours. The FLSA sets a federal minimum wage and requires employers to pay their workers one and a half times their hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 in a week—commonly known as overtime. In addition, the federal law also:
- Requires employers to keep an accurate record of all hours worked by their employees
- Establishes terms that exempt an employee from overtime laws
- Establishes the difference between an employee and an independent contractor
The FLSA sets minimum standards, and employment laws in individual states can set higher bars. For example, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (NJWHL) sets the minimum wage in New Jersey at a rate that is nearly double the current federal minimum wage. The New Jersey Wage Payment Law (NJWPL) allows workers to seek any wages they are owed. A New Jersey employment lawyer will be well-versed in both state and federal wage & hour laws to help you understand when your rights have been violated.
How New Jersey Employers Break the Law
Any time you have been cheated out of the compensation you have earned, your employer can be held accountable. If you believe your employer has violated state or federal law, our wage & hour team wants to hear your story. Some common ways employers cheat workers include:
- Failing to pay the minimum wage. New Jersey’s minimum wage is currently higher than the federal wage, but both the state and federal pay rates can change from year to year. Your employer must pay all of their non-exempt hourly workers at least the current minimum wage and must adjust the hourly rate when the law changes.
- Failing to pay for every hour worked. The law requires employers to pay their workers for every hour they spend doing mandatory work-related tasks, including putting on safety gear, cleaning work stations, attending meetings and training, and taking breaks or eating meals.
- Failing to pay overtime wages. If your employer fails to track your hours, falsifies time cards, or misclassifies you as exempt, you might lose out on the overtime wages you are owed.
- Misclassifying workers. Claiming that you are exempt or that you are an independent contractor can save your employer thousands of dollars a year in wages, overtime, and benefits.
Our employment law team will be able to assess your specific situation to find out if your rights have been violated and will fight to hold your employer accountable for paying back wages and any penalties they owe.
Who Are Exempt Employees?
Not every type of employee is eligible for overtime pay in New Jersey. The FSLA exempts several types of jobs, including truck drivers, airline employees, outside sales staff, and railroad workers. Management-level employees are usually exempt, as are employees who meet the following three tests:
- Is paid on a salary basis rather than an hourly basis
- Earns a particular minimum salary, which changes from year to year
- Performs exempt job duties, including supervisory, professional, or administrative work
Your employer might try to claim that your duties exempt you from overtime pay, but they could be misclassifying you. Allow our legal team to review your status to determine if you have been misclassified and denied overtime pay and other benefits.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Your hard work should be fairly compensated. With the help of our experienced employment law attorney, you can make your employer pay you what you are owed. Whether your company is breaking federal or state laws—or both—in failing to pay you fair wages, we will protect your rights and recover your wages. Contact our Somerville office to learn more about how we can help.