The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that workers be paid for the hours they work. Unfortunately, many employees in New Jersey and New York are unaware of their employment rights under the FLSA and related state laws, leaving them open to mistreatment when their employer leverages that lack of knowledge to act illegally and unethically.
The most common wage and hour problems we see at the New Jersey wage dispute law firm of Zatuchni & Associates are for overtime hour abuse and employees being wrongly classified as exempt or as contractors so that the employer can avoid paying overtime, payroll taxes, and other benefits.
If you believe or suspect that your employer has violated wage and hour laws and you have paid the price — whether that violation was accidental or planned — contact a New York and New Jersey wage dispute attorney at Zatuchni & Associates to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
What are Your Rights Under State and Federal Law?
State and federal law provide certain rights to employees with respect to their hours and pay. Those rights include:
- The right to receive a minimum wage. In New Jersey, the minimum wage is $8.60 per hour (increasing to $8.84 per hour in 2019). In New York, the minimum wage is at least $10.40 per hour (increasing to $11.10 in 2019), although it varies by locale and type of business.
- The right to receive overtime pay. Federal law requires employers to pay an employee one-and-a-half times his or her typical hourly wage for all hours over 40 worked in a workweek. New York and New Jersey state laws impose similar requirements.
- The right to be paid on short breaks. Although employers are not generally required to permit employees to take breaks under New Jersey or federal law, if an employee is allowed to take a break of up to 20 minutes, the employer must pay him or her for that time.
How Employers Cheat Their Workers Out of Wages
Many of the wage-and-hour protections under state and federal law apply only to certain types of workers. First, they apply only to employees, and not to independent contractors. Second, bona fide executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales employees—known as “exempt” employees—are not entitled to the minimum wage protections or overtime pay.
All of these terms have specific meanings under the law. But, as a result of these distinctions, many employers intentionally misclassify workers in a way that minimizes their benefits.
For example, an employer may treat a worker who meets the legal definition of an employee as an independent contractor, thereby skirting the requirements that the worker be paid the minimum wage, receive overtime pay, and obtain other benefits.
Or an employer may misclassify an employee as exempt to avoid the need to pay overtime. Rather, the employer will pay the employee a salary and require him or her to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay.
Fortunately, the label or title an employer gives to a worker does not determine that worker’s status as an independent contractor or exempt employee. If you believe your employer is misclassifying you and cheating you out of the compensation you deserve, contact a New Jersey wage dispute attorney from Zatuchni & Associates to explore your legal options.
New Jersey Wage Dispute Attorney
The wage and hour disputes we handle include:
- Line supervisors wrongly classified as managers so they can’t get overtime pay. If your employer has misclassified your position, you are entitled to back overtime pay for the prior three years.
- Retail employees told that they must complete tasks even if it means staying late without pay and being pushed by management to skip lunch and break periods.
- Truck drivers wrongly classified as contract workers so the company can avoid payroll taxes, benefits, and overtime pay.
- Salespeople who work on commission but have not been paid correctly for commissions or account expenses (improper commission chargebacks).
If you have been forced to work overtime, denied overtime pay, denied benefits, or forced to forego meals and breaks, contact a wage and hour dispute lawyer at our firm to find out if you have a lawsuit. You CAN demand fair treatment. Our goal is to help you find financial recovery and justice through the legal system.
Even if your individual claim is not large enough to make litigation practical on its own, we may be able to combine your wage and hour dispute with others in a group to pursue a wage and hour class action.
Note to Immigrant Workers: You are covered by U.S. labor laws. If you work 40 hours, you deserve 40 hours of pay.
If your rights were violated by your employer, talk with an attorney at our firm about your legal options.