Court Holds Federal Aviation Law does not Preempt New Jersey Wage Law

It is common for cases involving employment issues, such as wage violations, discrimination, and whistleblower claims, to be filed in federal court due to the interplay between applicable state and federal laws. In certain cases, a federal law may preempt a state law and, therefore, a claim that may be valid under state law will be dismissed. In some cases, however, the court will conclude that state law should prevail.

This was the case in a recent decision set forth by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court rejected a claim that the Federal Administration Aviation Authorization Act (FAAAA) preempted New Jersey law in a case alleging wage violations.  If you believe your employer failed to pay you the appropriate wages for the hours you worked, you should speak with a skilled New Jersey overtime rights attorney as soon as possible to determine your options for pursuing any wages you may be owed.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiffs’ Employment

The plaintiffs, who were delivery drivers for the defendant, filed a class action lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant violated the New Jersey Wage Payment Law (“NJWPL”) and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law (“NJWHL”) by incorrectly classifying them as independent contractors. The defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the FAAAA preempted New Jersey law. The court denied the defendant’s motion, after which the defendant appealed.

Determining Whether Federal Law Preempts State Law

On appeal, the court analyzed whether the FAAAA preempted New Jersey’s test for classifying employees for purposes of the NJWHL and NJWPL. The court first analyzed whether the presumption against preemption applied, stating that the powers of the state are not to be disturbed unless it can be clearly shown preemption was Congress’ intent. Here, the court found that employment laws were drafted to ensure workers receive fair pay and were therefore within the State’s police power. As such, the presumption against preemption applied.

The court noted, however, that the presumption could be rebutted upon a clear showing that Congress intended a law to preempt state laws. Therefore, the court turned its analysis toward the purpose of the FAAAA. In doing so, the court found the intent of the FAAAA was to prevent states from drafting any law regulating the price, route or service of interstate motor carriers to allow for a competitive marketplace. As such, preemption occurs when a state law affects prices, routes, or services, even if the effect is indirect. In the subject case, the court found that the NJWHL and NJWPL had neither a direct nor indirect impact on carrier routes, prices, or services. Thus, the court found that the FAAAA did not preempt the New Jersey wage laws, and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Consult an Experienced New Jersey Overtime Rights Attorney

If you believe you were not paid for the time you worked, you should consult an experienced New Jersey overtime rights attorney to discuss the facts of your case. The proficient New Jersey overtime rights attorneys of The Jaffe Glenn Law Group will work diligently to help you develop convincing arguments to assist you in recovering any damages you may be owed. We can be reached at 201-687-9977 or via our online form to schedule a free and confidential conference.

More Blog Posts:

New Jersey Court Rules on whether a Job Description Alone is Sufficient to Grant a Conditional Certification in a Collective Overtime Wage Action, December 11, 2018, New Jersey and New York Employment Lawyer Blog

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