Unpaid Overtime for Casino & Restaurant Workers

Wage and hour violations, including unpaid overtime, can affect casino and restaurant workers throughout New Jersey. How often do wage and hour violations occur at casinos and restaurants in New York and New Jersey? What laws protect employees against unpaid overtime violations, and are there similar laws in place to protect employers? These are important questions for employees and employers alike in the hospitality industry, and the dedicated New Jersey wage and hour dispute lawyers at the Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP

Wage Violation Lawsuits on the Rise in New Jersey’s Hospitality Industry

How often to unpaid overtime claims arise? How frequent are wage and hour violations among casino and restaurant workers in New Jersey? According to a press release from the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association, wage and hour claims against restaurants in the state have “proliferated in troubling and damaging numbers” in recent years. To be sure, wage and hour violation lawsuits have shown an uptick over the last decade. Over the last ten years, wage violation claims have doubled in federal courts, and in New York state in particular, records suggest that such lawsuits have actually tripled in number. To give you a sense of the figures, 652 wage violation claims were filed in New York state courts in 2009, while there were 1,738 in 2015.

How do the laws affect employees and employers in New Jersey and New York? The press release suggests that some of the federal laws are confusing for employers, and as such, they do not properly pay overtime. In other words, restaurant and other hospitality industry advocates contend that the violations are not intentional. Such a fact can make a difference when it comes to the remedies available to employees. To be sure, a plaintiff who files an unpaid overtime claim may be entitled to additional back pay if the employer’s violation is determined to have been intentional.

Understanding Federal Law on Overtime Pay and Unpaid Overtime Violations

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who work more than 40 hour work weeks are entitled to overtime pay. Overtime pay must be at least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay. In other words, if an employee’s regular hourly wage is $10 per hour, the overtime pay must not be less than $15 per hour. Overtime pay is not based on whether the employee works nights, weekends, and/or holidays. Rather, whether overtime pay is required is based entirely on the number of hours in a workweek that the employee works for an employer.

Not all employees are covered under the FLSA, however. As a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) clarifies, employees of retail establishments, including restaurants and casinos, typically can be covered in one of two separate ways:

  • Enterprise coverage: if the restaurant or casino employees work for a retail establishment that has an annual dollar volume of sales of at least $500,000, then that retail establishment must abide by the FLSA, and its employees are covered.
  • Individual coverage: regardless of whether restaurant or casino has an annual dollar volume of sales of at least $500,000, an employee within the business can be covered by the FLSA if that employee is engaged in interstate commerce activities on an individual basis. What are interstate commerce activities? The fact sheet gives the following examples: “ordering goods from out-of-state, verifying and processing credit card transactions, using the mail or telephone for interstate communications, keeping records of interstate transactions, or handling, shipping, or receiving goods moving in commerce.”

A New Jersey Employment Law Attorney Can Help

If you are a restaurant or casino employer, or if you currently are employed by one of these establishments, it is important to learn more about the FLSA and unpaid overtime violations. If you have questions about whether the FLSA is applicable to you, a New Jersey wage and hour violation lawyer can assist you. Contact the Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP today.