The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, like New Jersey’s Wage and Hour Law, requires that employees as a general rule must be paid a specified minimum wage, and overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week. However, certain classes of employees are exempt from these requirements. Thus, nonexempt employees need to be paid minimum wage and overtime, while exempt employees do not. In order to be considered an exempt employee under the exemption for “professional” employees, an employee must be paid on a “salary basis,” make at least $684 per week, and her work must require advanced knowledge in a field which is normally acquired “by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction; or… requires invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which hears appeals from the Federal trial courts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the United States Virgin Islands, recently examined the professional employee exemption in the case of Stephanie Higgins v. Bayada Home Health Care Inc.