When a state passes a wage law with the express approval of voters, one might hope that the law would stick around. However, lawmakers in Maine are currently looking for ways to repeal a new minimum wage law that voters passed just a few months ago in November. If they are successful the minimum wage law voters chose will be modified and weakened before it ever takes effect.
One would like to think that in 2017, women working entry-level service positions could at least expect to be paid as much as their male counterparts. After all, entry-level by definition require very little experience and generally offer pay that is only slightly better than minimum wage. Unfortunately, a civil suit filed against a New Jersey hotel demonstrates that workplace discrimination is alive and well even in some of the most positions.
Or... How can an "Executive," "Administrative," or "Professional" make
Wage laws are front and center once again for New Jersey, with another equal pay bill making its way to Governor Chris Christie's desk. It is yet to be seen if it will survive the veto that has killed similar bills that have previously made this journey. In the nearly six years since Christie took office in 2010, the Democratically-controlled legislature has produced three similar bills that have all met with a veto, although there is some momentum for this particular bill that may entail an override vote.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is a Federal statute that, in essence, and put simply, requires that all workers of the 50 states and territories who are not "exempt" from being entitled to overtime pay (for work in excess of 40 hours in a given week) must get that pay. It's a long statute and there are a lot of twists and turns, but that, in essence, is it.
There are valid business reasons for a company to hire another company to provide a workforce. A company whose labor needs may change quickly might prefer the ability to quickly scale up or scale down without it impacting payroll. Such arrangements can also help employees who are able to find steady work through temp agencies or other subcontractors. There are serious problems with subcontracting, however. It can be used as a tool to deny workers proper wages, including overtime benefits. It can shield bad actors from the legal consequences of their actions. The rise in popularity of these arrangements has naturally led to an increase in the abuse of workers. The Department of Labor' Wage and Hour Division has released new guidance regarding the acceptable use of subcontracted employees.
As long as the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) has been in existence, American corporations, large and small, have looked for ways to avoid paying overtime to employees who are otherwise entitled to receive it. One of the most common tricks used by business is to "misclassify" and a worker who would otherwise be entitled to overtime as "exempt" from the overtime requirements of the law. "Exemption" is dependent upon the nature of the work performed by the employee and whether or not the employee is "salaried." The salary threshold is extraordinarily modest, only $450 per week, or $23,660.00 per year. At such a low threshold, it has been very easy for employers who don't want to do the right thing to pay an employee "salary" and then declare that employee exempt. This puts the employee in the position of having to prove that, even though they are salaried, the day to day work that they perform is not within one of the recognized exemptions to the law. It puts the employee in the position of having to file a lawsuit and carry the burden of proof on misclassification.
We're seeing more and more wage abuse and wage theft. One of the latest trends concerns illegal tip pooling.
Some employers make extensive use of independent contractors. The benefits for an employer are clear. While employees are entitled to overtime pay and benefits, such as health insurance, worker's compensation coverage and more, independent contractors are generally on their own in terms of securing these rights. For that reason, it is very common for employers to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor in an attempt to avoid these legal protections. The New Jersey Supreme Court recently clarified the standard under which a designation of independent contractor will be evaluated.
Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to save a buck. Thriftiness can quickly yield to labor law violations when employers decide to take advantage of workers. One way this happens in certain industries is to designate someone an unpaid intern and then treat them as employees. This is a violation of minimum wage laws. The unpaid internship program run by NBCUniversal was recently the subject of lawsuits alleging labor law violations. NBCUniversal agreed to pay $6.4 million to settle the claims brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Other entertainment companies have so far resisted settling these claims and are hoping for a favorable ruling in higher court.