Over the past decade, there has been a nationwide increase in wage and hour lawsuits as well as administrative investigations conducted by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) based upon the failure of employers to pay overtime in accordance with federal and state law. Both small and large employers have been the targets of these wage and hour lawsuits and administrative investigations. In fiscal year 2005, the USDOL recovered more than $166 million in back wages, a 26 percent increase over the back wages collected in fiscal year 2001. U.S. Department of Labor, “Wage and Hour Collects $166 Million in Back Wages for 241,000 Employees in Fiscal Year 2005,” 2005 Statistics Fact Sheet, available at http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/statistics/200531.htm.
The NJDOL similarly has reported an exorbitant increase in claims filed by employees for alleged unpaid wages during fiscal years 1999 through 2004. See New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, “2004 Annual Statistical Review,” September 2005, p. 41. While the wage and hour laws have been ignored for decades, these types of lawsuits have now surpassed other employment discrimination lawsuits filed in federal court. See “Wage-Hour Actions Surpassed EEO in Federal Courts Last Year, Survey Shows,” Daily Lab. Rep. (BNA) (March 22, 2002).
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