Most lawyers, especially those who deal with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), know that paralegals are generally considered non-exempt employees, entitled to overtime pay. One would think that Pasricha & Patel, a law firm in Edison, N.J., that occasionally handles plaintiffs’ FLSA claims, would know that, too.
But maybe not.
Jason Barros, a former paralegal at the firm, has filed a collective action lawsuit alleging he and four other firm paralegals have been paid a flat salary and denied premium pay for hundreds of hours of overtime over the past three years. Barros claims the violations are willful, as the law firm should know better.
The case serves as a reminder to everyone in the legal field – be sure your paralegals are paid by the hour and paid overtime, or be prepared to justify their treatment as exempt professionals through some unusual facts, such as having a principal duty of managing other employees or a requirement that the paralegal have an advanced degree (such as an engineering degree) to perform specialized paralegal work.
Michael Homans is a Labor & Employment attorney and founding partner of HomansPeck LLC. For more employment law updates, including news and links to important information pertaining to legal developments that may affect your business, subscribe to Michael’s blog, or follow him on Twitter @EmployLawUpdate.