Filing a Wage and Hour Claim - New Jersey

Like federal law, New Jersey labor law counts as overtime any hours worked beyond 40 in a given week and requires that overtime hours be paid at a rate of one and one-half the employee’s regular hourly wage.

The overtime requirement does not cover the following employees:

  • Outside salespeople
  • Employees subject to applicable wage orders
  • Employees working in a hotel
  • Bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees (“white collar exceptions”)
  • Employees working on a farm, or except those involved in the first processing of farm products
  • Employees of common carriers of passengers by motor bus
  • Limousine drivers employed by a business that operates limousines
  • Employees of a summer camp operated by a non-profit or religious association during the months of June, July, August, and September
  • Employees engaged in the raising or care of livestock

New Jersey minimum wage is $8.85 per hour, which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In July 2019 the minimum wage in New Jersey increases to $10.00 per hour and will increase in January 2020 and again each January until 2024 when it will reach $15 per hour.

Employers can use tips and gratuities to reduce the minimum wage required to $2.13 per hour. However, the fair value of any food or lodging provided by an employer is not included in the definition of wages. Furthermore, if you pay for a uniform in cash and that payment brings your weekly wages below the minimum wage level, your employer must make up the difference to bring you back up to minimum wage for that week.

The following employees are not covered by the minimum wage requirement:

  • Full-time students employed by the college or university at which they are enrolled (must be paid at least 85% of minimum wage)
  • Learners, apprentices and students with a special permit from the state
  • Outside salespersons
  • Salespersons of motor vehicles
  • Part-time employees primarily engaged in the care and tending of children in the home of the employer
  • Persons under age 18, with some exceptions (learners, apprentices, and students, first processing of farm products, hotel and motel occupations, food service occupations)
  • Persons employed in a voluntary capacity and receiving only incidental benefits at a county or other agricultural fair run by a non-profit or religious association that conducts or participates in the fair
  • Student learners enrolled in a School-To-Work program
  • Persons employed at summer camps, conferences, and retreats operated by any non-profit or religious corporation or association during the months of June, July, August, and September
  • Tipped employees
  • Handicapped individuals

For more information on wages in New Jersey, visit the Department of Labor’s website.

No cities or counties in New Jersey currently have a minimum wage different from the state minimum of $8.85 per hour.

New Jersey law does not require an employer to provide employees with paid or unpaid meal periods or breaks for employees aged 18 or older. However, the state requires that employees younger than 18 years must be given a 30-minute break after five consecutive hours of work.

Normally for an employer in New Jersey to be able to deduct wages for any allowable reason (e.g. retirement accounts, medical care, cleaning of uniforms), the employer must obtain the employee’s written approval.

New Jersey’s Department of Labor (NJ DOL) may impose administrative penalties for violations of the wage and hour laws. The maximum penalty for a first violation is $250, and for any subsequent violation the maximum is $500. Willful violation of the wage and hour laws can lead, for a first offense, to a fine of between $100 and $1000 and/or between 10 and 90 days in prison. For subsequent violations, the penalty is a fine of between $500 and $1000 and/or between 10 and 100 days in prison.

If your employer owes you wages, you can learn how to file a wage complaint with New Jersey’s Department of Labor (NJ DOL) under the Wage Payment Law or the Wage and Hour Law. This can be filed online or you can fill out a mail-in form. NJ DOL will then issue a summons to your employer, who will have to appear at a hearing within five to fifteen days. If the amount claimed is less than $10,000, or you are willing to accept a maximum award of $10,000 and forfeit anything above that amount, NJ DOL can issue a decision and an award.

If you have a wage/hour claim, do not delay in contacting NJ DOL to file a claim, or in contacting a lawyer if you wish to bring a claim in New Jersey Superior Court. In order for NJ DOL to act on your behalf, you must file a claim within two years of the alleged violation. As you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. It may be helpful to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, but it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim.

If your employer owes you wages, you can file a claim in New Jersey Superior Court no matter how much money you are owed. In addition to wages due, the court can award you costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. You can file a claim both with NJ DOL and in New Jersey Superior Court, but if you do so NJ DOL will not act on the claim until the court has resolved it. You must file your claim in New Jersey Superior Court within two years of the date on which you believe you were owed wages by your employer. Learn more about how to represent yourself (i.e. without an attorney) in New Jersey state courts.

Wage & Hour General Information:
Telephone: (609) 292-2305
Fax: (609) 695-1174


Mailing Address
NJ Division of Wage and Hour Compliance
P.O. Box 389
Trenton, NJ 08625-0389

For Overnight Mail
New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development
Division of Wage and Hour Compliance
1 John Fitch Plaza, 3rd Floor
Trenton, NJ 08611

Wage Collection
NJ Division of Wage and Hour Compliance
Wage Collection Section
1 John Fitch Plaza 1st Floor
PO Box 389
Trenton, NJ 08625-0389
Telephone: (609) 292-3658
Fax: (609) 984-3005

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa est étudiante en troisième année de licence à la faculté de droit de l'université de Syracuse. Elle est diplômée en journalisme de Penn State. Grâce à ses recherches juridiques et à ses écrits pour Workplace Fairness, elle s'efforce de fournir aux gens les informations dont ils ont besoin pour être leur meilleur défenseur.