Almost anyone familiar with the phrases “exempt employee” and “non-exempt employee” understands that exempt employees generally are not entitled to receive overtime pay. However, what if you are an exempt employee who performs work that is potentially outside the parameters of your employment contract? In that situation, you may be entitled to receive extra pay for that extra-contractual work. One important way to protect your financial rights and get everything that you deserve is to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey overtime attorney to advocate for you.
One case of workers involved in such a dispute were two employees of the Atlantic City schools who worked during Superstorm Sandy. Sandy was definitely an occasion when many people found themselves performing tasks outside their usual employment routine. As the superstorm bore down upon the New Jersey area, many emergency measures were undertaken. The City of Atlantic City asked to use the Atlantic City Board of Education’s schools as shelters. Gary and Dewane, two supervisory-level employees of the board, worked at the shelters both before and during the storm. For their work before and during the storm, Gary received $3,174, and Dewane received almost $14,000.
After the men received their money, a state agency determined that employees like Gary and Dewane weren’t entitled to overtime under the terms of their employment contracts. Both men were administrators who earned annual salaries and were exempt from receiving overtime pay, in the opinion of the agency.
The school board sought reimbursement of the money both supervisors had received. The dispute moved into the courts, and the Superior Court sided with the workers. The events surrounding Hurricane Sandy were “highly unusual and unique,” and the work that Gary and Dewane did was “extraordinary and unexpected,” which carried with it the “expectation of remuneration,” even if they were exempt employees.
The Appellate Division’s opinion upholding the trial court’s decision pointed out another reason why the men were entitled to be paid, even if they were exempt employees. While the state agency’s conclusion that the men’s employment contracts did not allow them to receive overtime pay was correct, that was actually irrelevant to the money the men received in this situation.
The money that Gary and Dewane got wasn’t overtime pay. Overtime pay necessarily implies that the workers were doing work for the benefit of their employer, the school board. When Gary and Dewane (and the three other school employees) were working at the schools before and during the storm, classes were not in session. The work the men did, which focused on preparing the schools for use as temporary storm shelters for city residents, was not done for the benefit of the board. It was work done for the benefit of the city. That meant that it was outside the terms of their employment contracts with the board, and they were entitled to be paid.
If you are a worker who finds himself or herself in a wage payment or overtime dispute, make sure you have aggressive and knowledgeable counsel fighting for you. The experienced New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates have been helping New Jersey workers for many years get what they are properly owed. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.
More blog posts:
Contract’s Arbitration Provision Doesn’t Stop New Jersey Dancer from Pursuing Her Minimum Wage Lawsuit, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Oct. 16, 2017
Company VP Entitled to Litigate His New Jersey Wage Dispute in Court Despite the Existence of Arbitration Clause in Employment Contract, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, May 18, 2017
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