NEWARK — New Jersey Merck plant workers have filed a class action suit against Merck for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New Jersey Wage and Hour Laws. The class is represented by twenty-six employees who all worked at a New Jersey plant as research chemical operators since at least 2011. In addition to the class actions, each of the workers is also looking to bring their own individual suits.
Shift Policy Violated FLSA
According to the suit, the company required the plaintiffs to work forty-five minutes prior to their regular eight-hour shift each day without pay. The plaintiffs operated machinery and performed other tasks as necessary to the production and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, working forty hours each week in eight-hour shifts. The suit alleges that starting in 2010 or earlier, Merck required the plaintiffs to begin work roughly 45 minutes before each regular shift to do work that is identical to the work they performed during their shifts, and then required them to work their full eight hours. The plaintiff stated that the company has not maintained an appropriate record of this uncompensated work.
Under FLSA, covered employees must be compensated for all hours worked in a workweek. This includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed work place. The workday includes the period between the time on any particular day the employee starts his or her principal activities up to the time such activity ceases. Therefore, the compensable workday may be longer than an employee’s scheduled shift, hours, tour of duty, or production line time.
The plaintiffs in this case also allege that Merck retaliated against them when they began violating the shift policy that violated their wage rates. According to the suit, Merck retaliated by threatening to shut down the plant, disciplining employees, and imposing new work rules with the intention of discouraging employees from asserting their rights. FLSA prohibits any person from discharging or discriminating against any employee because he or she filed a complaint or instituted any proceeding related to FLSA.
Employees must be paid for all compensable time worked, and company policies that deprive employees of compensation for hours worked is illegal under FLSA. Additionally, employers should not take adverse action against employees for asserting their FLSA wage rights. If you believe you are being deprived of your wage rights, you should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.