Employment Law Firm Accused of Violating Labor Law

File this story under “irony”: A law firm that has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in Fair Labor Standards Act cases has been accused in federal court of failing to pay overtime to its paralegal staff.

The suit was filed by Jason Barros on behalf of the firm’s five paralegals and several former paralegals. Barros, who has worked for the firm for about five years, claims he worked 440 hours of overtime in 2011, 375 hours in 2012, 75 hours in 2013 and 60 hours so far this year. But the firm, Pasricha & Patel of Edison, N.J., classifies its paralegals as exempt from overtime, so it does not pay time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. The suit says the paralegals are misclassified as exempt.

Exempt employees generally have management responsibilities, and are paid by salary, not by the hour. Employers sometimes misclassify nonexempt workers as exempt in order to escape overtime costs.

The lawsuit seeks double the overtime wages Barros claims are due him and the other collective action members, as provided under the FLSA.

It also says that the firm’s violation of the FLSA is willful; that is, it’s not an oversight or a mistake. “… in addition to the defendants being attorneys, this firm has itself represented employees who have alleged that their employer unlawfully failed to pay them overtime pay in violation of the FLSA,” the suit claims.

By law, some paralegals may be classified as exempt employees if they have an advanced specialized degree in another professional field relevant to their job duties. But none of the paralegals at Pasricha & Patel have such a situation.

Read the whole story on New Jersey Law Journal.