Minimum wage is going up in New Jersey. As of January 1, 2022, it is now $13 per hour, with incremental increases that will finally arrive at $15 per hour by 2024. This minimum wage guarantee will protect most workers except in certain occupations such as:
- certain retail or automobile sales,
- food, laundry and hospitality services,
- farming production
- light manufacturing and apparel industries
- beauty culture
Other minimum wage exemptions apply to administrative or executive functions, college work-study programs and daycare providers.
For tipped employees, the total earnings of hourly pay plus tips must at least equal minimum wage. The new suggested rate will be $5.13 per hour, and the employer must make up any deficiency in tips to meet the new minimum wage.
Does this mean employers will comply?
While this should be good news for New Jersey workers, unfortunately, there are situations where employers will still try to find ways to withhold wages from their workers, especially if they don’t think anyone is paying attention.
While this is illegal, and violations can result in fines and even imprisonment, plus costly civil suits, many employers are banking on their employees’ fear of losing their job or of being too intimidated to question their pay.
Some ways that employees may experience wage theft violations include:
- pay that is below minimum wage
- reduced wages without advance notice
- unpaid or underpaid overtime
- improper deductions
In addition, employers may misclassify their employees as contractors in order to avoid paying them their legal wages or overtime, or to avoid payroll taxes. Businesses sometimes do not properly apply tip credit or tip pooling for servers and bartenders, shortchanging the minimum wages due to their employees.
How do you fight back in a wage and hour dispute?
When it comes to wage theft and wage and hour disputes, many workers fear that they will lose their job or face retaliation if they question their pay. But it is important to know that there are both federal and state laws that will protect workers’ rights, as well as a legal process that allows workers to address unfair labor practices.