The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted everyone’s lives, especially those in the workforce. Employers laid off employees in record numbers, and those who could keep their jobs, suffered cut hours and reduced pay. While things may be getting back to normal, many workers continue to experience reduced wages and concern over job security. If you have these concerns, you are not alone. Here’s some information that may put your mind at ease.
Employers Must Provide Notice of Pay Cuts
According to New Jersey’s Wage Payment Law (WPL), an employer cannot cut your rate of pay without providing you with prior notice nor can they cut your pay for work you have already performed. N.J.S.A. 34: 11-4.6. In addition, an employer cannot make improper withdrawals or deductions from your paycheck unless you specifically consent to them in writing or part of a collective bargaining agreement as set forth in N.J.S.A. 34: 11-4.4 and N.J.A.C. 12:55-2.1.
An Employer Cannot Cut Your Pay Below the Minimum Wage
Employers can reduce your rate of pay, but they cannot reduce it below the minimum wage. For example, if you are a tipped employee, the New Jersey Department of Labor suggests you are paid a minimum hourly rate of $4.13 per hour. If your tips plus the hourly rate are less than the minimum wage of $12 per hour, your employer must make up the difference or be in violation of state law. Check out New Jersey’s DOL minimum wage chart that sets the minimum hourly rates for those who work for a small business, agricultural workers and seasonal employees.
For salaried employees, your employer must be paying you at least $864/week. If your employer cuts your pay and it falls under this weekly amount, your employer may need to change you to an “hourly” employee.
An Employer Cannot Cut Your Pay in Violation of an Employment Contract or Collective Bargaining Agreement
If you have an employment contract with your employer that includes your rate of pay, your employer may be in breach of your contract if they reduce your pay without your knowledge or consent. Likewise, if you are subject to a collective bargaining agreement, your employer is likely unable to reduce your pay without going through union negotiations.
Your Employer Cannot Cut Your Pay for Discriminatory Reasons
New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act prohibit wage and compensation discrimination based on gender or bias. New Jersey’s Wage and Hour laws enforce this prohibition and provide the state with powers to investigate and remedy such discrimination.
Your Employer Cannot Retaliate Against You for Raising a Complaint About Your Wages
The WPL and New Jersey’s Wage Theft Act (WTA) expressly prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who raise complaints or concerns about their pay rate or unpaid wages. An employer is also prohibited from retaliating against an employee who has initiated action or is about to initiate action against an employer for unpaid wages. An employee has up to six years to pursue a claim either by filing a wage complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Wage Collection Section or filing a private lawsuit.
Get Help if You Believe Your Employer Illegally Cut Your Pay
If your employer has cut your pay without providing you notice, has reduced your rate of pay below the minimum wage, or is retaliating against you for raising concerns, they may be violating state and/or federal law. McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. has experienced wage and hour lawyers here to help. To find out more, contact our office in Red Bank, New Jersey at 732-842-6500, our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-985-9800 OR at 888-396-0736.