New Jersey Court Analyzes Proof Required to Show a Collective Class

In many instances where an employer fails to pay an employee proper wages for hours worked, the underpaid employee’s situation is not unique, and the employer is, in fact, failing to pay many individuals adequate wages. In such cases, it may be beneficial to file a collective action that allows the employee to seek wages on behalf of his or herself and all employees similarly situated. Pursuing a collective action can be complicated, however, and requires the plaintiff to prove certain factors are met.

In a case recently heard by the District Court for the District of New Jersey, the court explained the requirements a plaintiff must meet to show both a class exists and who should be included in that class. If you believe your employer improperly denied you wages for hours worked, it is in your best interest to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey overtime rights attorney to discuss the facts of your case and which option for seeking wages is most beneficial under your circumstances.

Facts Regarding Plaintiff Employment

Reportedly, the plaintiff was employed as a cook at one of the defendant’s corporate cost centers. The defendant employer provides food and hospitality services to businesses nationally in onsite cost centers, which were essentially cafes. The cafes varied in size and employed anywhere from a handful to 70 non-exempt employees. Scheduling was handled locally. The plaintiff alleged that he was forced to keep track of his own hours, request permission to work overtime, and work unrecorded hours for which he was not paid, and that the defendant failed to compensate employees for time and travel expenses. As to other workers, the plaintiff alleged that he observed other employees working hours for which they were not compensated as well. As such, he filed an action seeking wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law. The plaintiff then filed a motion for a conditional certification of the case, which the defendant opposed.

Practice Versus Policy Based Similarities

On review, the court noted that the plaintiff was required to produce factual support for the position that the other employees were similarly situated. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s policies enabled off the clock work and created work which could not be completed during a shift. The court found, however, that there was no evidence to show a policy based pattern of overtime wage violations. Specifically, the court found that requiring employees to keep track of their hours was not a violation, noting that employers can use any method they choose to track time. Similarly, the court found that the policy of requiring pre-approval for overtime hours did not violate any wage laws. Lastly, the court found that the defendant’s policies, which stated an employee could voluntarily work past an assigned shift, did not require overtime compensation.

Regarding practice based similarities, the plaintiff alleged that he observed other employees working off the clock hours or being assigned too much work to complete during their shift, and being required to travel to other locations without compensation for travel. The court found the defendant failed to provide any details regarding alleged instances where other employees worked hours for which they were not compensated. The court noted, however, that the plaintiff produced photographs which provided a modest showing of employees working off-shift hours. As such, the court conditionally certified a limited class.

Meet with a Seasoned New Jersey Overtime Rights Attorney

If your employer unjustly denied you wages that you are owed, you should meet with a seasoned New Jersey overtime rights attorney regarding your case and to develop a plan to seek any wages you may be owed. The experienced New Jersey overtime rights attorneys of The Jaffe Glenn Law Group will vigorously pursue any wages you may be owed. You can contact us at 201-687-9977 or through our online form to schedule a free and confidential meeting.

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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