Effective January 1st of 2015, the minimum wage in New Jersey has been raised to $8.38 an hour. While this is good news to minimum wage employees in all types of industries, you should know that as a food and beverages worker you are still vulnerable to wage theft. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes that every hour and minute worked by an employee needs to be compensated by the employer. The FLSA also establishes a minimum wage (currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25, a little over $1 lower than the New Jersey minimum wage). In accordance to the FLSA, the standard work week consists of 40 hours. As an hourly employee, the FLSA dictates that for every hour worked over the standard 40 hours a week, the employee has a legal entitlement to receive a rate higher than the standard rate under which she is paid. Unfortunately, many employers abuse their workers and do not compensate them to what they are legally entitled. The New Jersey law office of John Zidziunas is dedicated to fight and deter employers from this illegal behavior.
How the Food and Drinks Industry is Affected
According to a recent study by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (OBLI) workers in the food and drinks industry file the most wage theft claims out of all industries. This should not be very surprising. A lot of workers in the industry are often compelled to stay extra time to perform duties that they should not be performing off the clock. For example, has your supervisor ever asked you to close the store in an hour when it will obviously require more than that time to perform closing duties? Have you had to clock out and then continue cleaning because you did not want to upset your supervisor?
Cutting an employee’s lunch break short is also a violation of state and federal law. If you have ever been asked by a supervisor to cut your break short due to understaffing or any other reason, you might be entitled to compensation related to unpaid wages.
Is Your Claim a Few Years Old? Do Not Be Discouraged!
If you have not sought counsel regarding an unpaid wages claim because you think the statute of limitations has expired, do not despair. In Mayers v. Heffernan, the plaintiffs sought payment on commissions from their employer. The employer claimed that it did not have to pay such commissions because the claim originated from events occurring three years prior. New Jersey Wage and Hour Law does have a statute of limitations of two years for tort claims, but New Jersey Wage Payment Law establishes that claims asking for unpaid wages or commissions have a statute of limitations of six years. The New Jersey court sided with the plaintiffs and ruled that the employee had to pay the owed commissions. This case illustrates that the courts are willing to side with employees when an employer wants to withhold wages in an unlawful manner.
Call Labor Law Attorneys in New Jersey for an Unpaid Wages Consultation
If in any manner you think that your employer is withholding wages due to unpaid work hours, cutting your breaks short, not recognizing overtime hours worked, or if you would like a seasoned attorney to dissipate any doubts you might have as to employment law, please do not hesitate to contact experienced labor law attorneys in New Jersey at John J. Zidziunas & Associates. Call 973-509-8500 now.
Image courtesy of cooldesign from FreeDigitalPhotos.net