Articles Posted in Fair Labor Standards Act

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Great strides have been made in the last 30 years to eradicate discrimination against people with disabilities. If the proposed version of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 becomes law, another vestige of legally allowable discrimination against workers with disabilities will be gone, as the law will eliminate the ability of employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. Whenever you think you’ve been the target of disability discrimination at work, you should seek out a knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorney for answers to the questions you have.

The move to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour has been in the headlines a lot recently. The State of New Jersey already has a $15-per-hour minimum wage law on the books. That law makes the state minimum wage $12 per hour for 2021, $13 for 2022, $14 for 2023, and $15 for 2024.

What that state law didn’t do, however, was end the practice of allowing employers to pay people with disabilities subminimum wages. That practice began in 1938 when the federal government enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act, which created the first federally-mandated minimum wage.

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According to some, unpaid internships are arrangements that are beneficial to both sides. The employer receives useful work without having to pay wages. In exchange, the intern receives valuable industry experience and skills, helpful networking contacts, and an important resume-building piece. Under the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Labor enacted rules that made it harder for employers to bring in interns or apprentices and not pay them. Now, new rules created earlier this year by the Department of Labor may have the effect of broadening the range of internships that can permissibly be unpaid. Regardless of whether you interned under the old rules or will be interning under the new ones, if you think that your employer has improperly failed to pay you for your work, you should consult an experienced New Jersey wage and hour attorney.

Previously, under rules established in 2010, the department had erected a six-part test for when an employer may pay an intern nothing. Under the old rules, an unpaid internship needed to meet all six of the factors to be legally permissible. This set of a half-dozen standards required internships to be “similar to training that would be given in an educational environment,” an experience created for the benefit of the intern, a situation in which the intern did not replace paid employees, an arrangement in which the intern was not entitled to a job at the internship’s end, and an arrangement in which both sides understood that there would be no pay.

Additionally, the old rules required that the “employer derived no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.” This factor was, in many courts’ view, relatively restrictive and greatly narrowed the number of internships that validly qualified as being something for which the employer could pay the intern nothing.

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Minimum wage and overtime violations can occur in a variety of ways and can occur in almost any type of workplace. Regardless of the nature of your employment, there is the possibility that your employer could illegally underpay you when it comes to overtime pay that you’ve earned. If this happens to you, you need to take prompt action and contact an experienced New Jersey wage and hour attorney about your case.

One recent example of this was an overtime case involving Tymeco, Iesha, and Teairra, three certified nursing assistants who all worked at the same assisted living facility in South Jersey. The terms of the CNAs’ employment were stated in a collective bargaining agreement completed between the facility owner and the nurses’ union. The CBA required that all disputes arising out of the CBA must go to arbitration rather than directly to court.

The three CNAs’ lawsuit alleged that the employer underpaid them in two ways. First, according to the employees, the employer paid wage differentials that were included in their regular rate of pay, but, when the employer paid overtime, it failed to include those wage differentials in the calculation, meaning that the overtime rate of pay they received was less than the full time-and-a-half they should have received.

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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.

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