Articles Tagged with “New Jersey overtime”

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The New Jersey Wage and Hour Law regulates minimum wage and overtime requirements.  It is New Jersey’s counterpart to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  The Wage and Hour Law and Fair Labor Standards Act are bedrock elements of New Jersey employment law.  Under the Wage and Hour Law, New Jersey employers must pay overtime at a rate of one and half times an employee’s regular pay if she works more than forty hours a week.  However, if the employer is in imagesCAWQ89PSthe trucking industry, the employer is only legally required to pay overtime at the rate of one and half times minimum wage.  However, if the employer should have paid the higher rate but paid the lower rate, it can raise the defense that it did so in “good faith” reliance on government orders or regulations.

In the case of Branch v. Cream-O-Land Dairy, Elmer Branch filed a class action lawsuit in the New Jersey Superior Court against his employer, Cream-O-Land Dairy, on behalf of himself and similarly situated truck drivers employees, for non-payment of overtime in violation of the Wage and Hour Law.  Cream-O-Land argued that it was not required to pay the higher rate for two reasons.  First, it argued that it was a “trucking industry employer,” and that all the employees were paid at least the lower overtime rate.  Second, it argued that it met the “good faith” defense.  The trial agreed that Cream-O-Land satisfied the good faith defense and dismissed the case on that ground.  Branch appealed to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court which reversed, finding that the matters on which Cream-O-Land relied did not satisfy the statutory requirements of the Wage and Hour Law.

Cream-O-Land then appealed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  Because the trial judge did not address the exemption for trucking industry employers the Supreme Court, like the Appellate Division,  examined only whether Cream-O-Land satisfied the good faith defense.  It ruled that it did not.

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restaurant-in-street-1152064-s.jpgThe Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) is a federal statute that was introduced to regulate certain employment practices. For example, the FLSA establishes a national minimum wage, guarantees pay at a rate of one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for certain jobs, and prohibits most employment of minors in oppressive child labor positions.

The FLSA also imposes various requirements on employers. It is important for employers to be aware of the requirements imposed on them by the FLSA. For example, many employers will pay their employees bonuses to reward them for their time and commitment during the year. The problem for employers is that a year-end non-discretionary bonus may be included in employees’ regular rate of pay when calculating overtime.

Generally, the FLSA requires that employers calculate employees’ regular rate of pay by including all compensation paid to employees during the workweek. Employers must then calculate overtime based on employees’ regular rate of pay. Sometimes bonuses are required to be included when calculating employees’ regular rate of pay, however, is an exception and not used for calculating overtime. If bonuses are included in employees’ regular rate of pay then employers must pay more overtime, and then more payroll tax as well.

There are exceptions that permit the payment of discretionary bonus which is not required to be included in employees’ regular rate of pay, however, is an exception and not used for calculating overtime. For a bonus to be excluded from the calculation of employees’ regular rate of pay it must be discretionary. For a bonus to be discretionary the payment must be solely within employers’ discretion. This means that the payment cannot be mandated by a contract, agreement, or based on an implied promise. Employers must have complete discretion to decide whether to pay the bonus, and how much to pay if they chose to do so.
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