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Monday, February 6, 2023

NJ Wage and Hour Attorney, NJ Wage Increase Segregates by Occupation

New Jersey increased its minimum wage to $14.13 an hour commencing January 1, 2023 for most workers. New Jersey’s increase in the minimum wage by $1.13 an hour in many occupations is insufficient for most workers to sustain themselves. Further, it segregates by occupation and is class-biased particularly for agricultural workers (see below).

The increase from $13.00 to $14.30 an hour applies to workers in many fields but some employers are exempt. An income of $14.30 per hour is insufficient for many workers employed fulltime and in many two income households with dependent children. This minimum wage increase lags behind the statutorily required minimum wage in other prosperous jurisdictions throughout the US. According to government statistics, residents in NJ experience a higher cost of living than approximately 40 other states.

Throughout the US, beginning on January 1, 2023, the minimum wage increased in sixty-four jurisdictions in the US (23 states and 41 other jurisdictions). In the majority of those jurisdictions, the minimum wage will mandate or surpass $15 per hour to be required to be paid to all or some employees. Later in the year, 27 additional jurisdictions will raise the statutory minimum. New Jersey’s minimum wage is lower than other jurisdictions that also have a high cost of living.

In New Jersey, long-term care facility direct care staff members fared only slightly better than other occupations in the 2023 increase. This is despite their excessive workloads in an occupation that requires skill, constant physical labor and emotional strength: the hourly wage for long-term care facility direct care staff members was raised $1.13 an hour, from $16.00 to $17.13 an hour.

According to the US Surgeon General’s Report, there are many causes for burnout among health workers. People outside of the field are generally not aware of the range of societal, cultural, structural, and organizational factors that contribute to burnout among health workers. Some of the factors include: excessive workloads, limited control in scheduling, administrative burdens, concerns when the facility is not adhering to certain health codes, and lack of organizational support.

As to New Jersey workers who rely primarily on tips, the 2023 cash wage for tipped workers is increased by only 13 cents an hour, but the cash wage plus their tips must still equal the 2023 new  $14.13 an hour minimum.

While NJ increased its minimum wage to $14.13 an hour, this increase will not apply to all employers and all employees. For seasonal workers the increase will only be from $11.90 to $12.93 to an hour. For employers with fewer than 6 employees, the increase will only be from $11.90 to $12.93 to an hour.

Agricultural Workers’ Minimum Wage is Class-Biased.

Agricultural workers suffer the most in the disparity of minimum wage increases among all states who have increases, including New Jersey. Agricultural workers in NJ do not receive the benefit of 2023's minimum wage increases on par with other workers. Agricultural workers are already are among the most exploited throughout the US. Agricultural employers in NJ are required to only increase their employees’ wages in 2023 by 96 cents an hour- from $11.05 an hour to $12.01 an hour. This is $2.12 lower than the $14.13 an hour mandated to be paid to most workers. Without these hard working and underpaid agricultural workers, we would not have the abundance of  high-quality US grown food which has stricter pesticide and herbicide restrictions than do other countries with lower standards whose food we import.

US Gross National Product Is in Large Part Due to its Highly Productive Agricultural Business

The United States is the largest agricultural exporter in the world. The US Gross National Product is due in 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.

Agricultural workers are an essential part of the workforce and should be elevated in status in society and fairly compensated for their labor and important contributions to this country’s economy and people.

Undocumented Agricultural Workers Are Frequently Exploited

Agricultural workers can be frequently further exploited if they are undocumented workers. Some employers exploit their workers based on their immigration status.

Workers lacking work authorization are legally entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay for hours worked the same as other workers.

Many undocumented workers are prevented or manipulated from asserting workplace rights for fear of retaliation, being separated from their families, locked-up for months or even years in jails while they await a hearing. A NJ worker is always legally entitled to pay for work actually performed, regardless of immigration status. NJ employers must adhere to wage and hour laws and compensate their workers accordingly regardless of the immigration status of their worker. Undocumented workers who are paid less than the statutory minimum wage, often are afraid to complain for fear of retaliation including being deported and unable to support their children and aged parents.

Further class disparity is evidenced by the fact that NJ 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 overtime pay entitlement.

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.

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 Terminated or Retaliated Against for Demanding Your Rights

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.

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing employees who suffered illegal discrimination in wages. If you find yourself in a situation with inadequate job security because of the aforementioned issues, if you are thinking of resigning, or have been fired or think you will be fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in discrimination.

I am successful in bringing employee lawsuits against governmental entities and private employers and recovering money for victims of age, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and other discrimination. If you think you are being pushed out of your job or retaliated against, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law represents workers throughout the entire state, including Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, Irvington, Orange, East Orange, Trenton, Paterson, Montclair, Elizabeth, North Brunswick, Cherry Hill, Vineland, Union, Plainfield, Hamilton Township, Lakewood, Edison, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Franklin, Lakewood, and in every NJ County, including Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Essex, Monmouth, Somerset, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, Morris, Gloucester, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden Counties.


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