State and federal wage laws require employers to compensate nonexempt employees for the overtime hours they work. Employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act who are not exempt from overtime pay requirements are entitled to receive one and a half times their normal pay rate for all hours worked in excess of a regular 40-hour workweek. New Jersey overtime laws mirror FLSA rules, also requiring time and a half for nonexempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. If you need assistance properly classifying your employees as exempt or nonexempt for overtime pay purposes, or if you are currently involved in an overtime pay dispute, an experienced Monmouth County business attorney can help.
Overtime pay disputes often arise from:
- Misclassifying an employee as exempt or as a contractor
- Miscalculating overtime hours
- Failing to pay the correct overtime rate
- Offering time off in lieu of monetary compensation for overtime
Sometimes employers make honest mistakes when it comes to overtime pay. For instance, an employer might mistakenly believe all salaried employees are automatically exempt from overtime pay. However, some salaried employees may be considered nonexempt. An employee’s classification as exempt or nonexempt depends on not only salary, but also the type of work performed. To be exempt from overtime pay requirements, an employee must receive a set salary of not less than $455 per week for each week he or she works, regardless of the quality or quantity of work. Additionally, an employee’s primary duties must fall into one of the following categories for the employee to be considered exempt:
- Executive — manages business operations or a department or division; supervises at least two employees; has the authority to hire, fire and promote
- Administrative — performs non-manual labor directly related to business operations; exercises independent thought and discretion
- Professional — possesses advanced knowledge in a field and has completed postsecondary coursework in that field; examples include doctors, lawyers and professors
- Outside sales — makes sales away from the principal place of business
Computer employees may also be exempt if they meet certain qualifications.
While most overtime pay errors are unintentional mistakes, some employers willfully skirt overtime laws by intentionally misclassifying employees. Employees who do not receive the full amount of overtime pay to which they are rightfully entitled can sue their employer for unpaid overtime. An employee may be awarded damages above and beyond the unpaid wages, making it important for employers to properly classify and compensate employees from the moment they are hired.
If your employer owes you overtime pay, or if you have questions about how to properly compensate your employees in accordance with state and federal wage laws, contact a qualified Monmouth County business lawyer today.