FLSA Collective Action Alleges Failure to Pay Overtime by New Jersey Hospital

Federal and state employment laws in New Jersey protect workers’ right to overtime compensation. Employers can violate employees’ rights under these statutes in a variety of ways, the most obvious of which involves a requirement to work extra, unpaid hours. Violations can occur whenever an employee’s total compensation for a pay period does not include the overtime rate of time-and-a-half. Some employees work at multiple locations, which might be owned and operated by different companies. If the two companies have sufficient ties to one another, they could be deemed “joint employers,” who must collectively provide overtime compensation to that employee. A collective action currently pending against a New Jersey hospital and other defendants includes this allegation. Layer v. Trinity Health Corp. et al, No. 2:18-cv-02358, complaint (E.D. Pa., Jun. 6, 2018).

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay overtime compensation to non-exempt employees, at a rate of one-and-a-half times their regular wage for any hours in a week over forty. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The statute identifies numerous exemptions, including people who work “in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.” Id. at § 213(a)(1). Non-exempt employees are, very broadly speaking, hourly workers who do not hold a managerial position. Employees may file suit against their employers for alleged violations of overtime rules on their own behalf, or on behalf of “themselves and other employees similarly situated.” Id. at § 216(b). A claim brought on behalf of other employees is known as a “collective action,” and is similar in many ways to a class action.

Employees can work for more than one employer. For many people, holding down more than one job is an unfortunate necessity. In most cases, the two employers are legally separate from one another, and are only obligated to pay an employee overtime if their total time working for that employer exceeds forty hours. Two or more employers may, however, be deemed “joint employers,” meaning that they are jointly liable for overtime compensation when an employee’s total work time at any of their locations exceeds forty hours in a week. The determination of whether employers are “joint” or not “depends upon all the facts in the particular case.” 29 C.F.R. § 791.2(a). If an employee’s work for one employer “is not completely disassociated” from their work for another employer, all of their work for the two employers could be “considered as one employment for purposes of the [FLSA].” Id.

The lead plaintiff in Layer works at several hospitals that are part of a “comprehensive integrated network” in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Layer, complaint at 2. The three defendants own and operate facilities in this network. The plaintiff works at various facilities as a medical lab technician, a non-exempt position. Hospital workers are subject to different overtime rules, which look at a maximum of eighty hours at regular pay in a fourteen-day period. 29 U.S.C. § 207(j). The plaintiff alleges that his total hours at the various facilities regularly exceed eighty hours per fourteen days, but that he does not receive overtime pay. He further claims that the defendants are a “joint employer” under the FLSA.

The Resnick Law Group’s employment attorneys represent workers in New Jersey and New York, helping them assert their rights in claims for a wide range of unlawful employment practices. To schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can assist you, please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997.

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