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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27621
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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A few months ago I was off. I was not paid the last month

Customer Question

A few months ago I was laid off. I was not paid the last month of my work. I live and worked in NJ. The company is in FL.
I have submitted a wage and hour claim at NJ DOL. It came to my mind that as NJ DOL has no jurisdiction in FL, it would be more effective to cancel my NJ DOL claim and submit a wage and hour claim in FL.
Am I interpreting the law and how the system works correctly? What are the pros and cons of doing this?
The fact that I already have a hearing with NJ DOL in a month, would it be better to get a judgement, and if the company doesn't honor the judgement then I apply at FL DOL?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

The New Jersey Department of Labor handles disputes for people who live and work in New Jersey. If a Florida corporation is hiring New Jersey residents, New Jersey has an interest in ensuring that they'd get paid.

The DoL follows the exact same procedure. Here is more information:
http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/wagehour/content/wage_and_hour_compliance_faqs.html#q20

The main downside to proceeding in New Jersey is that, if the company has no presence in NJ and fails to cooperate, unless they have bank accounts or property in NJ, the state can't enforce a decision against them. That might be one reason to file the claim in Florida. But if they're registered to do business in New Jersey and have an agent on file with the Secretary of State, NJ should be able to help.

If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your response. If it is OK with you, I will try to ask you small questions to get the final answer I need.

1. I already have a hearing with NJ DOL in a month. Assuming I get a judgement in my favor and if the company doesn't honor the judgement, can I domesticate (I might be using the wrong term) the NJ DOL judgement to FL DOL?

2. How can I find out that the company is registered to do business in New Jersey and have an agent on file with the Secretary of State, NJ?

3. Do I have the right according to FL DOL, to open a wage and hour claim?

I would appreciate your detailed response just in case I didn't ask the right question. Thank you

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
No, those are the right questions.

1. What the New Jersey Department of Labor issues is a decision, but because they're not a judge, it's not the same as a judgment. You could, however, file a breach of contract lawsuit in Florida and get a judgment against the employer.

2. If the company is a corporation or LLC, they have to be registered with the Secretary of State to do business in New Jersey. You can check on the Secretary of State's website. You can look them up through this link:
https://www.njportal.com/DOR/BusinessNameSearch/default.aspx


3. Florida doesn't have the same type of state wage complaint process that New Jersey does. Residents have to either file a wage claim with the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court (for up to $5,000, so it depends on how much you're owed). The U.S. Department of Labor can investigate for you even if you're not a Florida resident.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The wage + severance is $18k. I found the company on the link you shared.

1. Can you forward me the form for the US DOL?

2. Where would be location of the US DOL hearing?

3. The company has an office in Manhattan (The headquarter is in FL). Can that help?

4. Why FL doesn't have a state wage complaint system?

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
1. There's no need to go through the US DOL if New Jersey has jurisdiction to decide the dispute.

2. Florida. The NJ DOL handles all wage complaints in New Jersey.

3. That doesn't really have any bearing on the New Jersey vs. Florida question. It might make a difference if you had worked primarily out of that office.

4. I'm afraid I can't answer this. Every state does things differently. Many have state departments that investigate wage complaints, but I've never understand why some states don't. Perhaps they think the ability to sue in civil court is enough.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

1. Why do you state that NJ has jurisdiction? It's not like they can send someone to FL to enforce. Please explain the detail.
Please forward official links.

2. You wrote:"3. Florida doesn't have the same type of state wage complaint process that New Jersey does. Residents have to either file a wage claim with the U.S. Department of Labor or file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court (for up to $5,000, so it depends on how much you're owed). The U.S. Department of Labor can investigate for you even if you're not a Florida resident."

There should be other courts in FL for the value I am asking. Even for double pay. Am I right on these two statements?

3. I thought their NYC office might come handy just in case I need to go to a non NJ court.

Please forward official links.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
1. New Jersey has jurisdiction because they're registered to do business in New Jersey. This is the same link I gave you originally.
http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/wagehour/content/wage_and_hour_compliance_faqs.html#q20

2. Yes. I don't know how much you're owed. Anything above $5,000 can be filed in the Trial Court. This site lists all of the Florida courts.
http://www.flcourts.org/

But if you're going to court instead of letting the state handle it, you're also allowed to file in New Jersey, because that's where you were worked, where you lived when you entered the contract, and they submitted to NJ jurisdiction by hiring employees to work in New Jersey.

3. There is no reason to involve New York in this. Their Department of Labor isn't going to get involved in a dispute between a NJ worker and a FL company if you never worked in the NYC office. And it wouldn't make sense to file a lawsuit in NYC when you could do it in NJ - the filing fees will be higher, all the costs will be higher, and you have to travel further.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

1. Are you referring to:

Q. May I file a claim if my employer is located out of state?

A. Yes, you may file a claim. If the employer has a New Jersey location or agent, then the case will be handled through the normal processes. If the employer does not have a New Jersey location or an agent the Division will informally attempt to resolve the claim. However, the Division does not have jurisdiction over employers in other states so if the employer refuses to cooperate the Division cannot take any further action.

3. I brought up NYC as I am only a few miles away and the company has assets there

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I am.

I understand why you brought up New York City. But if the company has a presence in New Jersey, there's no reason to file a lawsuit there.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I apologize for the late response. It seems Justanswer still hasn't resolve the issue with my account. If you have a way of getting justanswer resolve account issues please let me know.

Anyway back to the subject.

1. Is there mediation at the NJ DOL hearing prior to each side presenting their evidence to the referee?

2.

As in the hearing I need to answer under oath and if the employee sends an attorney then they are not under oath. At the hearing, after the mediation, if the company is represented by an attorney, can I ask the referee to postpone the hearing, so I can be represented by an attorney too?

Thank you

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
The NJ DOL doesn't mediate before a hearing, no. They're trying to find out if the employer broke the law by failing to pay the employee, which could result in fines or other penalties. If you're interested in mediating a resolution, then that's something to bring up with the employer directly.

An attorney has an ethical obligation not to misrepresent the facts to a judge or tribunal. Attorney's who lie in proceedings can be disbarred. If you'd like to have an attorney represent you, then it's best to hire one before the hearing. There is no way to guarantee they would give you a continuance to get someone at that point. But I can tell you that the employer will almost certainly have a lawyer.