Paralegal's suit claims law firm should have paid for overtime

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A paralegal has filed a lawsuit claiming that his employer, a New Jersey law firm, failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime as required by federal law.

The suit by Jason Barros was filed on behalf of five paralegals working at Pasricha & Patel of Edison, N.J., along with former paralegals at the firm, the New Jersey Law Journal reports.

Name partner Gary Pasrich has handled at least two suits based on the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the story. Barros’ lawyer, Mitchell Schley, tells the publication it is ironic that a firm with FSLA expertise would not pay for paralegal overtime.

“For the most part, law firms realize it’s not a debatable question so most law firms pay” for paralegal overtime, Schley said.

Schley cited a Labor Department regulation that says paralegals and legal assistants generally aren’t qualified as exempt from overtime because they don’t need advanced degrees for employment. A paralegal would be considered exempt, however, if he or she used an advanced degree in another professional field for the job, the regulation says.

Lawyer Patrick Papalia represents Pasricha & Patel. She told the New Jersey Law Journal that the law on paralegal pay is more nuanced. Paralegals who exercise independent judgment may be exempt from overtime pay, she said.

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