Healthcare Worker Rights in New Jersey

Our state’s health care workers provide vital services to the community. They should receive fair treatment from their employers.

However, hospitals and other employers in the medical sector will often infringe on their employees’ rights. Health care workers are often denied the protections that they are entitled to.

Contact Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today. Our unpaid overtime attorneys in New Jersey are pleased to help you fight for justice.

Overtime Restrictions

Many hospitals and other health care facilities would love to work employees 100 hours a week, which would cut down on the number of people they needed to hire. These types of schedules compromise the public safety and the health of workers, who need rest.

There are many laws that healthcare workers should be aware of. One of the most important is N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a34 which is the prohibition on mandatory overtime:

  • Employers cannot force employees to accept overtime work in excess of their agreed-upon weekly shift. Further, this shift cannot be more than 40 hours, though it could be less.
  • Refusal to accept overtime cannot be grounds for an adverse employment action, such as dismissal or discharge, or for discrimination.

There are some exceptions to these prohibitions. For example, an employer can require overtime in the event of an unforeseen emergency. It must be a last resort, of course, after an employer has exhausted all reasonable efforts to obtain staffing. The employer also cannot use overtime to fill vacancies due to chronic understaffing.

If you are required to work overtime due to an emergency, you must be provided at least one hour to arrange for care of children or other dependent family members.

Not All Employees Covered

The law and associated regulations do not apply to everyone who works in a health care facility. Instead, they apply to hourly workers involved in clinical services or direct patient care. Doctors are also excluded. However, the law would certainly apply to nurses, nurse’s aides, and others involved in clinical or direct patient care.

Also realize that “health care facility” is very broad. It can include:

  • Hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • residential health care facilities
  • outpatient clinics
  • residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities
  • assisted living residences
  • home health care agencies
  • hospice care agencies
  • adult day health care facilities

If you have a question about whether you are covered, you should consult with a New Jersey employment law attorney.

Filing a Complaint

If you were required to work overtime, then you can file a Mandatory Overtime complaint with the state’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance. The agency will notify your employer and ask them to complete a questionnaire in response.

The Division of Wage and Hour Compliance has the authority to penalize an employer for violating the mandatory law. However, the person complaining is not compensated—though they must be paid for any overtime hours that they work. The employee also might have grounds for wrongful termination or another cause of action if the employer retaliates or discriminates against them.

If you have a question about healthcare worker overtime in New Jersey, contact Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today. Our lawyers have filed many wage and hour complaints, and we would be happy to help you.