When it comes to an employer’s complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act, there may be a variety of ways that the employer can violate the law and open itself up to liability. Knowledgeable New Jersey wage law attorneys can help you determine if your employer is operating afoul of the law in the way that it pays you. One area in which problems can arise is breaks. As the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals explained, an employer does not have to maintain a break policy, but, if it does, it must comply with the FLSA’s rules.
The employer that was sued in this action was a print and online publishing firm based in suburban Philadelphia. Among its employees, the publisher had on staff a group of sales representatives who earned compensation in a variety of ways. The employer paid them a base hourly wage and also gave them the ability to earn bonuses. Until 2009, the employer gave the sales representatives two paid 15-minute breaks each day.
In 2009, the company crafted a new system that eliminated paid breaks. The new arrangement allowed representatives to log on and off at their own discretion, with the employer paying the employees only for the time when they were logged in. Any break, regardless of duration, was unpaid as long as the worker was logged off for more than 1.5 minutes. The new system maximized “employees’ ability to take breaks from work at any time, for any reason, and for any duration,” according to the employer. The average sales representative worked five hours per day and received $7.25 per hour.