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Monday, January 3, 2022

NJ Wage Payment Attorney, Increase in Minimum Wage Insufficient and Class Biased

New Jersey’s increase in the minimum wage by one dollar an hour beginning January 1, 2022 is insufficient for most workers to sustain themselves. Commencing immediately on  January 1, 2022, the minimum wage will increase in twenty-one states and thirty-five other jurisdictions. In the majority of those jurisdictions, the minimum wage will be or surpass $15 per hour to be required to be paid some or all employers. Four states and more than twenty other jurisdictions later in 2022 will institute additional minimum wage rate increases. Before December 31, 2022, eighty-one jurisdictions in the United States i.e., fifty-six municipalities and twenty-five states, will increase their statutorily mandated minimum wage.

While NJ is also increasing its minimum wage starting January 1, 2022, unfortunately for workers in NJ, the minimum wage required to be paid by most employers will only increase by one dollar, from $12 to $13 an hour. However, this one dollar an hour increase will not apply to all employers. For seasonal workers the increase will only be 80 cents an hour. For employers with fewer than 6 employees, the increase will only be 80 cents an hour.

Throughout the US, the hardest hit in the disparity of minimum wage increases in some jurisdictions who have increases, are those workers who already may be among the most exploited - agricultural workers - in some states.  Agricultural employers in NJ will only be required to increase their employees’ wages by 46 cents an hour- from $10.44 an hour to $10.90 an hour. Agricultural workers should be elevated in status in society. Without them, we will not have the abundance of high-quality US food that has stricter pesticide and herbicide restrictions than do other countries whose food we import.

Further class disparity is evidenced by those workers engaged in labor on a farm or relative to the raising or care of livestock, both which are physically arduous work, are exempt from NJ overtime pay entitlement.

Additionally, the US Gross National Product is due on large part to its highly productive agricultural business which would not be successful without its poorly paid agricultural workers. In 2020, the US exported $145,700,000,000 ($145.7 billion dollars) worth of agricultural products to other countries and this country is the largest agricultural exporter in the world.

Agriculture workers who do not receive the benefit of 2022's minimum wage increases on par with other workers, as is required by most employers, can be frequently exploited if they are undocumented workers. Some employers exploit their workers based on their immigration status. Workers lacking work authorization are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay for hours worked the same as other workers. Many of these workers are prevented or manipulated from asserting workplace rights for fear of retaliation. A worker is always entitled to pay for work actually performed, regardless of immigration status. Undocumented workers who are paid less than the statutory minimum wage, may be afraid to complain for complain for fear of retaliation.

Not all workers are covered by NJ statutory minimum wage rate and overtime pay, but these exemptions will not be discussed here, except, as examples only, exempt from the NJ statutory minimum wage rate are outside sales persons, motor vehicles sales persons, part time employees primarily engaged in the care and tending of children in the home of the employer, and fulltime students employed by the college or university at which they are enrolled at not less than 85% of the effective minimum wage rate

As to workers who rely primarily on tips, New Jersey’s 2022 one-dollar-an-hour minimum wage increase DOES apply to tipped workers, increasing their employer minimum cash wage from 2021's $4.13 to 2022's $5.15 an hour, but the cash wage plus their tips must still equal the 2022, $13.00 an hour minimum.

Workers under 18 years of age are exempt from the NJ statutory minimum wage rate, except those under 18 years old working in hotels, motels, restaurants, retail, the beauty culture, laundry, cleaning, dyeing, the first processing of farm products, light manufacturing and clothing occupations are covered  by the minimum wage order rates.

If you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit

If you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit. If you are thinking of quitting, or you think you will be fired, you should know that you may lose your right to prevail in a lawsuit unless you first take certain legally required measures to preserve your job while you are still employed. If you are thinking of quitting, or think you will be fired, you should contact this office immediately to discuss your options in the safest way for you.

If You Have Been Suspended, Had Your Hours Slashed, or Were Terminated or Threatened with Termination

If you have been suspended, had your hours slashed, or were terminated or threatened with termination for demanding wage and overtime pay for which you are entitled, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.


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