College Athletes Determined to Be Employees By NLRB

April 14, 2014

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the college football players at Northwestern should be considered “employees” of the University and entitled to organize. This decision may have significant implications for college athletes, should the courts also consider the athletes “employees” who may be entitled to overtime pay and other wage and hour protections provided by Federal Labor Law (FLSA).

The FLSA provides basic wage and hour protections to nearly all workers. These protections include minimum wage and entitle non-exempt employees overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times your standard rate of pay for every hour worked in excess of 40 in any one work week. If you have questions about your compensation, an experienced Georgia wage and hour attorney can address your particular situation and provide you the help you need.

According to the Northwestern University’s football players’ lawsuit, student athletes asserted that they should be considered employees and hence represented by a union. In Northwestern University, NLRB Case No. 13-RC-121359, the Board determined agreed that the players met the definition of who is an employee under the terms of the Act, specifically that an employee is "a person who performs services for another under a contract of hire, subject to the other’s control or right of control, and in return for payment." Here, an employer/employee relationship exists, according to the decision.

The Board explained that Northwestern’s football program generated significant income and that in exchange, the scholarship players receive tuition, fees, room, board, and books for up to five years, which can total a significant amount of money, as much as $76,000 per calendar year. Over the course of a college athlete’s term at the university, this amount may be upwards of one quarter of a million dollars. In order to receive the scholarship, the players must sign a “tender,” which is essentially a contract setting forth the conditions under which a player will get paid.

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Are The McDonald's Corporation and Franchise Owners “Joint Employers”?

April 7, 2014

Seven class action Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuits are pending against McDonald's Corporation and numerous McDonald's franchises alleging wage and hour violations. The FLSA requires that employers pay at least minimum wage and provide non-exempt workers overtime compensation at a rate of one and one-half times their standard rate of pay. If you have questions about your rights pursuant to the FLSA or believe that you have not been paid what you deserve, it is important to consult with an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

According to the recently filed lawsuits, McDonald's Corp. and the franchises violated federal wage and hour laws in several significant ways. For example, the lawsuits allege that McDonald's improperly shaved time from employees' time cards, failed to pay overtime compensation to those employees who worked more than 40 hours in a work week, and required employees to work off the clock.

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President Obama Seeks To Amend FLSA

March 26, 2014

President Barack Obama has just released a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Labor to "propose revisions to modernize and streamline the existing overtime regulations” aimed at revising the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").

The FLSA, enacted in 1938 was designed to provide workers necessary labor protections such as minimum wage and overtime pay. Currently, the FLSA requires that workers earn at least the federal minimum wage of $7.35/hour, although some states have a higher minimum level. The FLSA also requires that all non-exempt workers be paid overtime compensation at a rate of one and one half times their standard rate of pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in any one work week.
The Fair Labor Standards Act protects over 135 million workers in more than 7.3 million workplaces nationwide.

If you have questions about your compensation or if you have received all the pay you are entitled to, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

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McDonalds Workers Filed Wage and Hour Claims

March 21, 2014

McDonald’s workers in 3 states have filed wage and hours lawsuits against the fast food giant – including both the company and several franchise owners. The lawsuits allege numerous Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations, including illegally underpaying employees by erasing hours from the workers time cards, failing to pay required overtime and ordering them work “off the clock.” Pursuant to federal labor law, non-exempt workers are entitled to received overtime compensation at a rate of one and ½ their standard rate of pay for every hour worked in excess of 40 in any work week. If you have any wage and hour questions or believe that you may not have received all the compensation you are entitled to, it is a good idea to consult with a dedicated Atlanta wage and hour lawyer right away. A knowledgeable FLSA attorney can review your circumstances and help determine your next steps.

In this instance, the workers in California, Michigan and New York alleged a variety of employment abuses. For example, in two of the Michigan workplace lawsuits, workers claimed that they were ordered to show up to work, but then required to wait – without pay – up to two hours to begin working while they waited for customers to arrive. Additionally, the lawsuits also claim that the employees had to purchase their own uniforms. If true, these allegations could mean that the workers wages illegally dropped below required minimum wage.

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Delivery Drivers Settle FLSA Misclassification Lawsuit

March 14, 2014

One of the areas that creates a significant amount of confusion – and litigation – in employment law is the issue of misclassification. Misclassification refers to the practice of identifying workers who should be considered “employees” as “independent contractors” and thus denying them the benefits they deserve pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

If you have questions about your classification, or believe that you may have been improperly designated as an independent contractor, it is important to consult with an Atlanta wage and hour lawyer right away. Misclassification errors can be costly, denying you the compensation – including overtime pay – that you deserve.

A recent Pennsylvania case involving these issues just settled for $905,000. The lawsuit was filed by delivery drivers who claimed that Bimbo Bakeries violated the FLSA by misclassifying them as independent contractors rather than employees. As part of the settlement fees, current drivers will receive $900 each. Former drivers will receive $450.

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Are Workers Entitled To Pay For Time Spent Waiting To Go Through Security Checkpoints At Work?

March 7, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case filed by Nevada workers alleging FLSA violations. In Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, workers who spent time filling Amazon.com orders, have alleged that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that they be compensated for time spent “emptying their pockets and passing through metal detectors before exiting the warehouse after their work shifts were over.”

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides that workers be compensated for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any work week. Often disputes arise when workers are required to put in additional “off-the-clock” time and whether workers should be paid for this time becomes the subject of litigation. If you have questions about your pay, or believe that you have not been paid all the compensation you are entitled to, we urge you to consult with an experienced Georgia wage and hour attorney right away.

Here, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that requiring employees to submit to post-shift security screenings was solely for the employers benefit and as a result, the employees may be entitled to pay for the up to 25 minutes the workers had to wait to proceed through the security checkpoint.

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Reality TV Writers Seek Overtime Protections

March 2, 2014

Reality TV now makes up a large percentage of the shows Americans watch. However, unlike network show where most writers are protected by collective bargaining agreements, many reality TV writers lack these protection. As a result, like most workers, they must rely on federal and state wage and hour laws - such as the right to minimum wage and overtime pay at a rate of 1 and ½ their standard rate of pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in any one work week.

Recently the one group of writers filed a wage and hour lawsuit against the ITV studio, the producer of several reality TV shows accusing it of “stealing” the wages of writers and producers by failing to pay them overtime wages. As explained by a representative, "Companies ... simply cannot insist that employees devote every waking moment to the company, month in and month out."

As Atlanta wage and hour attorneys – we agree. The Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted 75+ years ago to protect against all forms of labor abuses, and requires that employees pay their workers minimum wage and overtime compensation at a rate of one and one-half their typical wage for every hour worked in excess of 40 hours in any work week.

The writers and producers allegedly worked 10 hours per day, six to seven days per week for months in a row. According to records, the writers on these shows “worked enormous amount of overtime without any additional overtime” despite federal laws such as the FLSA and similar state law requiring that they do so.

Just last week, the studio agreed to pay began paying all associate producers at the rate of time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 in a week.

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Improper Tip Pooling Leads To Significant Wage And Hour Lawsuit

February 20, 2014

Recently, a popular sports bar chain agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle a wage and hour claim. The back wage lawsuit arose as the result of the bar’s improperly withholding tips from waiters and bartenders. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that “Chickie’s & Pete’s,” violated minimum wage and overtime pay laws.

Overtime pay and minimum wage laws provided by federal law in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may be confusing. If you have questions about your pay and whether you are receiving all the compensation you deserve, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away. Often, if you have been deprived all the wages you deserve, other employees may have been denied appropriate pay as well. A knowledgeable Atlanta wage and hour lawyer can begin an investigation into your situation and provide you important advice concerning your next steps.

In the recent case – 1159 restaurant workers asserted that the sports bar violated the FLSA in several different ways. First, the chain allegedly violated rules relating to tips credits. In fact, this was one of the largest cases ever brought based on violations of tip laws. Currently, federal law requires that restaurant owners pay tipped employees a minimum of $2.13 an hour. This plus tips must equal federal minimum wage ($7.25). If an employee’s wages don’t equal minimum wage, the restaurant is legally required to contribute enough to make up the difference. Here, the lawsuit alleged that Chickie’s & Pete’s failed to meet the minimum wage requirements, sometimes not paying the initial $2.13 an hour and often not adding in the additional pay required to meet minimum wage. Also, the lawsuit claimed that the bar also failed to pay the workers time and a half when they put in more than 40 hours in a workweek.

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How Will The Federal Minimum Wage Hike Affect You?

February 16, 2014

Beginning next January 2015 home health care workers will be covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This change in the law will affect the nearly 2 million home care workers who make up one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country.

Currently, the FLSA covers nearly all workers who work for a wage in this country and provides valuable protections such as requiring they be paid minimum wage and for all non-exempt workers, receive overtime wages at the rate of one and one-half their standard rate of pay for every hour worked in excess of 40 hours in any work week.

If you have any wage and hour questions or are concerned that you are not getting paid all the compensation you deserve, it is important consult with a top Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

One group that has been excluded from the FLSA protections has been home health care workers. However, beginning in 2015 (earlier in some states) workers such as personal care aides, caregivers and, certified nursing assistants who have been excluded will now be included. This necessary change will bring justice to those low-income workers who have been excluded for too long.

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Undocumented Workers Protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act

February 7, 2014

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth federal guidelines that affect nearly all employers concerning overtime pay and minimum wage requirements. For example, the FLSA requires that workers be paid at least minimum wage and overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their standard rate of pay for those non-exempt workers who put in more than 40 hours in week.

A question that frequently comes up is whether undocumented workers are entitled to these protections as well. Several courts across the country have looked at this issue, both from a federal and state law perspective.

Recently, the New York court determined that your immigration status does not affect your rights under the FLSA. This means your employer must pay you minimum wage and overtime even if you lack the proper documentation.

If you have questions about whether you have been paid all the compensation you are entitled to, it is important to speak to an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

The issue of the FLSA and undocumented aliens came up in Colon v. Major Perry St., Inc.. In Colon, a group of workers, including many undocumented aliens, brought a claim under the FLSA after their employer refused to pay the workers minimum wage and overtime pay. The employer argued that the workers couldn’t collect back pay because they were in the United States illegally.

The court disagreed and ruled in favor of the workers, explaining that its clear under the FLSA that all workers are covered, even undocumented workers. Federal law intended this to be the case by defining the term "employee" as "any individual employed by the employer."

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Should you be compensated for time spent putting on and taking off protective gear?

January 31, 2014

A recent case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court evaluated when your employer must compensate you for putting on/taking off different required types of work gear.

The questions involves what is called “donning and doffing” (taking on and off clothes and/or protective gear.) In many instances, your employer may be required to pay you for time spent putting on gear specifically required by your job.

Federal Law contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that in certain circumstances you be paid for this time. The failure to adequately compensate you may be considered a violation of the FLSA entitled you to back pay and damages.

If you work in a job that requires you to spend time putting on and taking off protective gear, it is important to know your rights concerning compensation for this time. If you have questions, you should consult with an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

While the case before the Supreme Court focused on unionized employees, non-unionized workers may be entitled to pay for time spent changing in and out of protective gear. Further, whether unionized employees must be paid for this time may be up to their collective bargaining agreement. Additionally even for unionized employees, questions still exist concerning different industries. Thus while the steel workers in this case were not entitled to compensation based on language in their collective bargaining agreement, unionized employees in similar cases such as meat processing-line workers in Nebraska were entitled to $19 million from Tyson Food, which allegedly failed to pay them for time spent donning and doffing protective gear. As stated by one observer:

“The decision makes clear that employees in the meatpacking and food processing industries who must don substantial required safety equipment must be paid for this time.”

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How Will The Federal Minimum Wage Hike Affect You?

January 28, 2014

During this week's the State of the Union address President Obama revealed his plan to hike the minimum wage to $10.10/from $7.25 for federal employees through the use of an Executive Order.

Obama stated, "Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn't involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise."

If you are a minimum wage worker, it is critical to understand how minimum wage laws affect you and ensure that you are receiving all the compensation you are entitled to. If you have questions about minimum wage laws, or are concerned you’re not receiving all the wages you should, it is important to consult with a top Georgia wage and hour lawyer right away.

While this increase only applies to federal workers, it is hoped that this move will fuel congress to pass a law raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25/hour and help low wage workers bring home more in their weekly paychecks.

Many states also have minimum wage laws. Some state laws provide greater employee protections; employers must comply with both.

As stated by one observer “the president’s action adds momentum to the fight for a federal minimum wage increase that would benefit all Americans.”

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