Due to violations in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New Jersey overtime laws, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will pay 86,680 employees over $33 million in back wages. This money is due as a result of calculation errors when computing overtime pay. Wal-Mart will pay the overdue wages, along with interest, for the time period dating from February 1, 2002 through January 19, 2007.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours during a one-week time span. This overtime should be calculated at the rate of 1.5 times the normal hourly rate received by employees. This normal hourly rate includes not only the base rate, but also incentives and premiums that the employee may regularly receive.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards, Victoria A. Lipnic, explains, “This settlement provides $33 million in back wages, plus interest, to Wal-Mart workers, and the company has taken corrective action to prevent this from happening again.”
The problem arose when Wal-Mart didn’t calculate overtime correctly. Overtime is based on the average compensation received by employees. For instance, if an employee’s base rate is $6.00 per hour but normally this employee earns $7.00 due to incentives and premiums, overtime must be based on the $7.00 per hour, not the $6.00 per hour. Wal-Mart did not take the premiums and incentives into consideration when performing their overtime calculations.
The agreement was finalized when the Labor Department filed a complaint. This complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court. At the heart of the complaint is the allegation that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. violated Fair Labor Standards Act provisions pertaining to overtime. A consent judgment also was filed. This judgment orders Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to pay employees the pay due them. In addition, the consent judgment enjoins Wal-Mart from further violations. The court quickly approved the consent judgment.
A tree-trimming firm from Houston, New Jersey, paid more than 2,500 workers below the minimum wage and now must pay them $1.8 million in back wages.
The U.S. Labor Department has found the firm in violation of federal and New Jersey minimum wage laws. The action follows a two-year investigation that ended in 2006.
The firm, ABC Professional Tree Services, must pay $1,801,507 in back wages to 2,501 employees in 16 states. It was accused of violation of the minimum wage laws and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The probe began when investigators received a tip from an employee.
FLSA regulations require that employees receive no less than the minimum wage of $5.15 for the first 40 hours of the workweek, and time-and-a-half for any work in excess of that. Employers are also required to keep accurate payroll records.
The U.S. Labor Department and U.S. Attorneys from several states teamed up in 2006. The mission of the task force they formed is to probe and prosecute violations of labor laws in the Gulf Coast region. Their more specific concerns are crimes of employers in hurricane-affected regions, such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.
“We are pleased,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, “that we were able to help these workers get the back pay they deserve.” She said the department would continue working to guarantee workers are being paid properly by their employers.
Besides paying back wages to its New Jersey employees. ABC is paying workers from Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, New York, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and New Jersey.
The firm cleans up after natural disasters, including hurricanes. Some of the workers it is paying back worked on cleanup following Hurricane Katrina. It also cleans up and trims and cuts trees around power lines for utility companies.
New Jersey’s overtime labor law is pretty straightforward and very comparable to a lot of the other state overtime laws that we’ve looked at recently. However, I think it’s crucial that I still cover it here, because the New Jersey law does have its unique facets and it does cover most New Jersey workers.
New Jersey overtime law states that employees are entitled, for each and every hour and minute worked in excess of 40 hours in a week, to at least time and a half of their normal wages.
To figure out how many hours you’ve worked in a week, the New Jersey law instructs that employees only use the hours worked in each week, on their own. That means that you cannot average the hours in more than two weeks.
New Jersey draws the line, though, when it comes to paying overtime for special occasions or for more than enough hours worked in a day. For instance, if an employee works more than eight hours in a day, that does not entitle them to get overtime. What matters is those hours put in over the course of the entire work week.
Also, New Jersey law does not force employers to pay extra pay for working on a holiday, a weekend, or other days considered “regular days of rest.”
Then again, if an employer has agreed in a contract ahead of time to pay his or her employees time and a half for holiday pay, or when an employee works more than hour hours in a day, then the law is pretty clear: that employer must pay it.
The New Jersey law also makes it clear what exactly is “regular” pay for an employee, for the sake of figuring out overtime pay/ Regular wages, for example, don’t include holiday bonuses, payments of sick days, vacation days, and personal time, or any pay given to an employee for travel.