Wage and Hour
Our employment attorneys represent employers who have been accused of not properly paying their employees, and help them prevent claims in the first place.
Payment of minimum wage and overtime is governed by both federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act) and state law (New Jersey’s Wage & Hour Law). Both the Federal Department of Labor and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance have issued regulations more precisely defining employers’ responsibilities under these laws.Overtime
Under both federal and New Jersey law, employers are required to pay their “non-exempt” employees “time and a half,” or one hundred and fifty percent of their regular pay, for all time worked over forty hours per week. Union contracts or employer policy may pay more, but this is what employers are legally required to pay.Minimum Wage
All non-exempt all employees are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey’s Wage & Hour Law to be paid minimum wage. While the minimum wage increases from time to time, New Jersey’s minimum wage is normally higher than the federal minimum wage.“Exempt” Versus “Non-Exempt” Employees
The general rule is that all employees must be paid at least minimum wage and receive overtime after 40 hours of work per week. Employees with these rights are known as “non-exempt,” because they are not exempt from the overtime and minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey’s Wage & Hour Law. However, certain employees are exempt if they meet certain tests. “Exempt” employees need not be paid overtime or minimum wage.
The three main categories of employees who are “exempt” from overtime are “executives,” “administrative” employees and “professionals.” While these categories may sound straightforward, there are rigid, and not always obvious, legal definitions which the employee must meet to be treated as exempt.
- Executive Employees. For an employee to be “exempt” as an “executive,” she must regularly direct the work of at least two full-time employees other than herself. Her primary duty must be “management.” She must have hiring or firing authority, or to recommend hiring, firing or other status changes in an “effective way”. She must have “discretionary powers” which she must customarily and regularly exercise. She must not spend more than twenty per cent of her time doing other job-related activities (or forty per cent in a retail or service establishment). Finally, she must be paid on a salary, rather than hourly basis.
- Administrative Employees. Under federal and New Jersey law, employees must meet a different test to be exempt under the “administrative employee” exemption. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey’s Wage & Hour Law, to be considered an “administrative employee,” the employee’s primary duty must be work directly related to management policies or general business operations which is in the office or nonmanual; or work in educational administration which is directly related to academic instruction or training. She must exercise discretion and independent judgment customarily and regularly as part of her work. She must be paid on a salary basis. She must not work more than twenty per cent of her time outside of “administrative” activities. Finally, she must directly assist an executive, or administrative employees, as her regular work; or work with only general supervision; or she must perform specialized or technical work which requires special training, experience, or knowledge, and work only under general supervision; or perform special assignments under only general supervision.
- Professional Employees. Federal and New Jersey employment laws also exempt “professional” employees from overtime requirement if they meet a rigid test. To fall within the “professional” exemption, the employee’s work must be predominantly intellectual and varied. Her work cannot be standardized on a regular schedule. She must have work which requires advanced knowledge requiring extensive education; or her work must require artistic originality and creativity; or she must teach in an academic or educational institution; or her work must involve the application of highly specialized knowledge in computer systems software engineering, programming, or analysis in a computer/software occupation. Consistently as part of her job she must exercise judgment and discretion. She must be paid on salary. She must not spend more than twenty per cent of work her time outside of “professional” duties.
- Other Exemptions. There are additional exemptions from the minimum wage requirements, including: Outside sales personnel; motor vehicle sales personnel; part-time in-home day care providers or babysitters; most minors; employees at non-profit or religious summer camps, conferences and retreats operated during June, July, August and September; full-time students employed by their college or university may be paid no less than eighty five percent of minimum wage.
Regardless of the minimum wage requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey’s Wage & Hour Law, The New Jersey Prevailing Wage Law requires that private contractors must pay their construction workers, such as carpenters, laborers, power equipment operators, and plumbers, the “prevailing wage” for their services in their communities when they are doing work on contracts for public entities. The prevailing wage is set by New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.Our Services
Our employment lawyers represent employers on all areas of wage and hour law, including:
- Litigation. Our employment attorneys defend New Jersey employers in state and federal court and before administrative agencies. We represent employers in all areas of wage and hour litigation, including claims for unpaid overtime or minimum wage, and misclassification of workers. We are experienced employment litigators who are dedicated to aggressively defending our clients’ rights.
- Advice and Counseling. Our experienced employment lawyers review employers’ practices and advise them on how to comply with their requirements regarding their minimum wage and overtime obligations. We educate supervisors, human resources professionals, and hiring persons on the employers’ requirements under federal and New Jersey wage and hour laws.
Contact our employment attorneys for advice on wage and hour issues, or on defense of wage and hour claims. E-mail us or call (973) 890-0004 or e-mail us to speak with one of our employment attorneys.