New Jersey Overtime Lawyers Resolve and Prevent Pay Disputes

Skillful representation for employers and employees

Under federal and state law, employers are generally obligated to pay overtime to eligible workers who labor more than 40 hours a week. Failure to pay required overtime can result in penalties above and beyond the payments owed. New Jersey has recently enacted a statute that toughens these penalties and creates additional remedies for employees who claim to have been shortchanged. At Cashdan & Kane, PLLC, our employment and labor law attorneys have deep experience resolving disputes over overtime pay. With offices in Westfield, Newark, Jersey City and Washington, D.C., we provide reliable counsel and aggressive representation for employers and employees seeking fair outcomes.

New Jersey’s rigorous penalties for overtime violations

In 2019, the New Jersey Wage Theft Law was enacted, providing additional protections for workers claiming illegal employer practices. These include increased penalties for failure to pay overtime. Along with back pay, workers can recover liquidated damages of 200 percent, which amounts to three times the overtime due. Employers also may have to pay workers’ attorneys’ fees for taking legal action. Importantly, groups of employees with similar claims that their rights have been violated can join in collective actions against employers. The law also includes protections against employer retaliation. In light of the severe consequences for violations, employers should proactively consult a knowledgeable labor and employment attorney who can offer trustworthy guidance on best practices to avoid liability.

The basics of federal overtime law

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour work week as the standard for hourly wage earners. An eligible employee is entitled to one and a half times the normal rate of pay for every hour of work done after clocking 40 hours for the week. A week is considered to be any period of 168 consecutive hours.

Employers cannot get around paying overtime by requiring employees to perform work-related tasks during scheduled break time, before clocking in or after clocking out. Although remote information technology has changed the definition of the traditional workspace, non-exempt employees who attend to email and other tasks while they are home and “off the clock” are entitled to be paid for that time.

Who is exempt from paid overtime?

Workers who are exempt from FSLA rules and not eligible for overtime include:

  • Managerial employees
  • Skilled professionals
  • Outside sales employees

The fact that an employee draws a yearly salary is not clear proof that the employee is exempt. The salary must be at least $23,600 per year and the worker cannot draw less pay based on a lower quantity or quality of work during a pay period. The employee must also perform exempt job duties.

Distinguishing contractors and employees

Independent contractors are not subject to the FLSA. However, labeling a worker as a contractor is not dispositive. True independent contractors generally meet these criteria:

  • running their own company, whether or not incorporated
  • performing services for whichever clients they wish
  • controlling the amount of work they do
  • being able to turn down work for any client
  • providing their own tools and equipment to do the job

If a worker is called a contractor but the employer defines the scope of the work, provides the workspace and the tools, manages the details of the work, expects the worker to perform every assignment and does not allow acceptance of assignments from other clients, the worker is operating as an employee and is subject to FLSA requirements, including overtime pay.

Contact an established New Jersey overtime attorney

Cashdan & Kane, PLLC represents employers and employees in overtime disputes. Call 908-264-9331 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our Westfield office or at one of our locations in Newark, Jersey City or Washington, D.C.