The fight for an increased minimum wage has gained steam over the last year, with many cities adopting a $15/hour minimum wage, and some states such as New Jersey, considering a statewide higher wage.   While the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25, the Obama administration has pushed for legislation increasing the wage, and the Democratic Party has now included passage of a $15 minimum wage as part of its platform.

Raising the minimum wage has several benefits. First, on obvious benefit is that those lower wage earners would increase their take home pay. This could in turn raise the family income, and reduce the number of families living in poverty.

Further, the increase in pay could boost the local economies where lower wage workers live. Statistics show that the increased dollars earned are used to buy necessities – such as food, clothing and shelter – and as a result, more money would flow into these businesses.   While opponents claim that a higher minimum wage may lead to job loss, studies show that this is not the case.

With the salary threshold amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) set to become effective on December 1, millions of additional American workers will become eligible for overtime pay.   The amendment with double the annual salary level that limits who is entitled to overtime pay. The current threshold level is $23,660. This means that if you make more than this amount, and perform certain “white collar” duties, you may be considered exempt and not entitled to extra compensation, regardless of the number of hours worked.   The threshold will now be raised to $47,476, which will dramatically increase the number of workers eligible for overtime.

Whether you are exempt v. non-exempt can make a substantial difference on your take home pay. Pursuant to the FLSA non-exempt workers who put in more than 40 hours in any work week are entitled to be paid one and one half times their current rate of pay for any additional time spent working. Previously, millions of employees who were making a lower salary but considered “exempt” were deprived of this option. An estimated 4 million more workers may be covered, with retail and food service workers thought to have the most gains. Further, the salary threshold will be tied to inflation, so the level should automatically update every three years.

For more information or to determine how this law may affect you, please contact the experienced Georgia wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides certain protections to the majority of workers in the United States. Two of the main protections include that all workers must be paid at least minimum wage and that non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in any one work week are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their standard rate of pay for all additional time. Because overtime compensation can make a substantial impact on a worker’s take home pay, ensuring that those who are rightfully entitled to these wages is critical. Recently, child-care center employees challenged their employer’s denial of overtime pay arguing that they are teachers, and hence eligible for overtime pay.

The court agreed. A federal district court determined that the child care center should be considered a pre-school. This was based on facts such as that the center had a curriculum, hired lesson plan coordinators, called its employees teachers and advertised the center as teaching math and reading. As such, the workers should be considered teachers and are entitled to overtime pay. The court awarded back pay and damages. Although elementary and secondary school teachers are exempt from overtime pay (not entitled to overtime wages) under the FLSA, the day care did not qualify as such.

For more information or if you have questions concerning whether you are exempt v. non-exempt, and if you should be receiving overtime pay, please contact the trusted and experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

Shortly after a $100million settlement with California and Massachusetts Uber drivers, a new class action wage and hour lawsuit has been filed against the ride sharing company alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).   The new FLSA claim asserts that Uber has illegally classified its workers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees” – one of the most common errors employers make. If true, drivers nationwide may have been denied significant overtime wages and tips.

The lawsuit, Trosper v. Uber Techs Inc., was filed in federal court in Illinois and asserts that the drivers were misclassified, were not properly paid for time worked off the clock, and that tips they were entitled to were either lost or stolen. In the recently settled claim, drivers and Uber agreed that the workers would continue to be considered independent contractors, but would be allowed to request tips. The new lawsuit covers drivers nationwide, excluding California and Massachusetts workers included in this lawsuit.

The distinction between employee and independent contractor is critical. Employees are entitled to many benefits and protections not afforded independent contractors, such as the potential to earn overtime pay. While independent contractors aren’t entitled to these benefits, they have control over much of the way in which they perform a job.

Restaurant owners frequently find themselves facing lawsuits for violating laws related to tipped employees. Understanding the rules surrounding “tipped wages” can help ensure you receive all the pay you are entitled to.

In fact, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) has reported over 1500 violations, amounting to nearly $15.5 million owed in back pay owed to workers. One of the most common issues concerns ensuring the workers earn at least minimum wage as set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act.   Tipped employees may be paid at a lower hourly minimum wage, and employers may credit “tips” toward reaching the federal (or state) minimum wage – whatever is higher. Regardless, employers must make sure that employees receive at least normal minimum wage through wages and tips combined.

Another area where frequent violations occur is in the creation of tip pools. Only people who regularly receive tips are allowed to be paid out of the tip pool – this means that others such as managers, supervisors, or cooks who don’t regularly receive tips cannot be paid out of this pool. When “non-tipped” employees share with tipped employees, tipped workers such as wait staff unfairly lose a portion of their take home pay.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced its long awaited changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which makes millions more American workers available for overtime pay.

The new regulation changes the salary threshold for being an “exempt” employee – and thus not eligible to earn overtime pay – from $23,660 to $47,476. By raising the salary exemption level, millions of American workers who were previously disqualified because they made more than $455/week – despite holding lower level salaried positions that should have entitled them to overtime pay based on their job duties – will now be eligible for overtime pay. In facts, estimates put this number at more than 4 million. These are workers who fit within the “executive, administrative or professional” classifications and make more than the current threshold but less than the new one. As such, millions of households across the United States may see an increase in income. Other workers will be allowed to work fewer hours, so that their employers aren’t required to pay overtime compensation. This rule will go into effect on December 1, 2016.

For more information about the updated FLSA law, or any other wage and hour question or concern, please contact the dedicated Georgia wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Beal, LLP for an immediate consultation.

A recent wage and hour lawsuit determined that an outsourcing company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and underpaid nearly 300 employees. Pursuant to the FLSA, employers must pay workers at least minimum wage. Additionally, non-exempt workers who put in more than forty hours in any one work week are entitled to be paid overtime compensation at a rate of one and one-half times their standard rate of pay for all time worked beyond the standard 40.   “Exemptions” apply to certain categories of workers – generally “white collar” positions where workers make more than a certain threshold salary.   The salary level is currently $455/week, however this amount is set to increase, with an announcement likely later this spring concerning its new level.

In the recent case, the outsourcing company erroneously failed to pay hundreds of workers time and a half after it raised the workers salaries. The company allegedly believed that by simply raising workers salaries, they became “exempt.” However, the decision whether a worker is exempt v. non-exempt isn’t this clear-cut. Rather, several different factors go into the determination. The “salary-basis” test is just one element, and rather than being a determining factor, one’s salary level simply creates a demarcation. Workers must make at least this amount before employers and courts decide whether the particular job duties make a worker “exempt” or “non-exempt.”

If you have questions about whether you are exempt v. non-exempt, or any other wage and hour concern, please contact the experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Beal LLP for an immediate consultation.

Telecommuting has become an increasingly popular way to work, offering flexibility and often a lower stress environment. However, sometimes employment rules and laws get lost in the arrangement. As a result, its important for workers and their employers to understand how the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), impact workers.

For example – do you know if you are entitled to overtime pay? Pursuant to the FLSA, if you’re non-exempt, you may be entitled to overtime compensation at a rate of one and one half times your standard rate of pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in any work week. If you are working from home, calculating how many hours you are putting in may be difficult. As a result, it’s important that you and your employer develop some sort of time keeping program that accurately tracks hours worked. This can be something informal – such as a time sheet – or more formal timekeeping software program.   Additionally, its important that workers understand when they should be keeping track of their time – i.e. when they are engaged in the “principal activities” of their job as opposed to non-compensable leisure activities.   In some situations, commuting time may figure in to the calculations, while other times it does not.

Further, it is important that your employer pay you at least minimum wage. While federal minimum wage remains at $7.25/hour, some cities have higher rates, which workers are entitled to.

A recent lawsuit brought by personal trainer’s at several Gold’s Gym locations examined an important question – when are employees deemed “working on commission” pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The answer to this question is significant. Pursuant to the FLSA, employees are “exempt” if their compensation is more than 50% based on commissions.   This means that these employees may not receive overtime pay regardless of the number of hours worked.

On the other hand, non-exempt employees may be entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times their standard rate of pay for all time spent working in excess of 40 hours in any one work-week.

In this instance, the court determined that personal trainers were not exempt because while they may receive a share of fees paid by the customers, they are only paid after working a required number of hours. The court clarified that “working on a commission” for purposes of the FLSA exemption refers cannot depend on the number of hours worked but rather is exclusively dependent upon completing a sale.   Thus, because the personal trainers couldn’t increase their pay by being more efficient and training more people within the time period, their employer couldn’t apply the commission exemption and deprive them of the overtime pay they were lawfully entitled to.

As summer approaches, many college students and other seek summer internships. Whether a worker qualifies as an “employee” or “intern,” and whether he or she is entitled to pay often confuses both employer and worker alike, with several high profile cases exposing employers who have violated employee/intern laws and deprived workers of the compensation they are entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In general, the FLSA defines the word employ to mean “suffer or permit to work.”   Further, whether an intern is “employed” and entitled to compensation isn’t necessarily determined by any one factor. Rather, numerous factors are evaluated in considering whether an intern should be paid. On balance, if an internship benefits the company more than it provides more educational benefits, than an intern should be paid. However, this is a case-by-case determination, so it is critical to speak to a knowledgeable Atlanta wage and hour lawyer if you have questions.

The factors a court may consider include: