In every state across the nation, including here in New Jersey, employers must adhere to federal and state employment laws. This can include everything from employee rights, family medical leave, workplace safety and compensation for work-related injuries, just to name a few.
But of the state and federal laws that have come under the most scrutiny in the last few years have been hour and wage laws. From complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to civil lawsuits, a number of cases have highlighted an employee's right to overtime pay while others have pointed out an employer's duty to abide by minimum wage laws.
What are New Jersey's hour and wage laws?
As of January 1, 2014, the minimum wage in our state is $8.25 an hour. While most employees are protected by this law, it's important to point out that this may not apply to all employees in certain occupations. A person's age may also exempt them from this rule.
In recent years, the issue of tipped employees has become a source of contention because of several higher-court cases. They raised concerns about minimum wage laws and whether tipped employees were being fairly compensated. But these cases also point out something very important: not every state has the same laws about compensating tipped employees.
Here in New Jersey, an employer may set employee wages lower than the hourly minimum wage if tips plus wages equal the hourly minimum wage. If this isn't the case, the employer is then required by state law to make up the difference. Failing to do so can result in legal consequences for the employer.
Overtime compensation has also come up in national news lately. Just like with state minimum wage laws, overtime laws can also vary from state to state. In our state, overtime is any time worked past 40 hours in a seven-day workweek and is paid at a person's hourly rate plus half per hour. It's worth noting that this might not be the case for all employees such as those who receive salary and are defined as administrative, executive or professional employees.
Though this post only scrapes the surface of our state's hour and wage laws, we hope it at least gives you a glimpse into your rights and helps you recognize when they are being violated.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "Wage and Hour Compliance FAQs," Accessed Aug. 14, 2014