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Ignoring These Employment Laws Can Get You in SERIOUS Trouble

Getting paid is the reason why most of us work and knowing the laws that surround employment is very important. Those who work in the state of New Jersey are subject to state laws regarding hours worked and wages earned, apart from some federal laws. Let us refresh our memory on some of the major ones.

Exempt or Non-Exempt

Simply calling a role “supervisory” is not enough to make it exempt. In many cases, figuring out whether the job is exempt or non-exempt is tricky, and getting help from an employment attorney is the best option.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, under federal law, requires the employer to pay overtime wages to employees who work for more than 40 hours in a week. An employer is wrong to say that you are exempt from receiving overtime because, for example, you are a salaried employee.

To determine whether your employment is exempt or non-exempt from receiving overtime wages, you should check what duties fall under your employment contract. For example, if you work in a managerial, professional, outside sales, or computer-related field, you are probably exempt. Most of the blue-collar jobs, such as police or firefighters, are non-exempt. If you are in a supervisory role, there is a 50/50 chance, depending upon whether supervising the work of others is the primary job.

The Rate of Pay in New Jersey

For non-exempt employees, the state has set the minimum wage at $8.44/hour for the first 40 hours of the week. Any hours worked in excess of the 40-hour limit are guaranteed 1.5 times the regular per hour wage rate. Even undocumented workers are entitled to these wages.

A Bit About Overtime

Employers have the right to make you work overtime, but only if you are appropriately compensated

The concept of overtime is pretty straightforward, but there are some common misconceptions. For example, you do not require prior authorization of your employer to work overtime, and he or she must pay you overtime wages for the extra hours worked. Of course, not getting prior approval can lead to the termination of your employment, but you are still entitled to getting paid for the work done.

Overtime pay cannot be exchanged with compensatory time. For example, you cannot formulate an agreement with your employer to work 30-hours in one week, and 50-hours in the second week (without charging overtime pay). The law states that you must be paid overtime rates in the second week for the 10 extra hours that you’ve worked.

Working on holidays or weekends does not qualify as overtime if you have not crossed the 40-hour weekly limit. Of course, employers can give compensation in excess of the legal requirement.

Paid Breaks?

The law is silent, and it is up to your employer to decide whether to give paid breaks during a work day. Traditionally, private companies allow employees paid breaks: two short breaks of 15-minutes and one lunch break of 30-minutes. Federal law requires employers to pay for any break that is shorter than 15 minutes. However, lunch breaks can be unpaid as long as they exceed the 30-minute limit.

In Case of Reduction in Pay or Getting Fired Without Cause

In case you get fired from your job and have unused sick or vacation leaves, your employer is not legally bound to compensate you for them

Employers have power under law to fire employees with as little cause as is necessary. However, there are certain cases where employers lose that privilege. For example, in New Jersey, an employer cannot fire an employee based upon his or her nationality, gender, color, creed, marital status, race, civil union status, gender identity, genetic information, mental disability, physical disability, or HIV status.

Your pay can be legally reduced, given that your employer gives you a one-month notice of his intentions and provided there is no contractual agreement that bars an employer from doing this. Both salaried employees and those paid by the hour can have their pay reduced this way.

However, if you believe your employer has wronged you, it is wise to seek help of an employment attorney or filing a complaint with the Department of Labor in New Jersey.

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