The fight for an increased minimum wage is getting increased traction, with cities on both coasts taking action to raise the wage to $15/hour. In New York, the state has announced that all fast food workers’ wages should be raised to $15 from its current minimum wage of $8.75/hour. Similarly, the University of California has announced that its employees will be paid $15/hour.   The U of California system is the first public university to make such a commitment. Other cities are also following suit such as Los Angles, Seattle and San Francisco.

Efforts are underway to increase the federal minimum wage as well. Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, (FLSA), employers are required to pay their employees at least $7.75/hour. Generally, where the city or state has a higher minimum wage, employees are entitled to the higher amount.

Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers introduced legislation seeking to raise the minimum wage.

For more information about wage and hour laws or if you believe you may not be receiving the compensation you deserve, please contact the experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLP for an immediate consultation.

The Department of Labor has just issued a new “Administrator’s Interpretation” that more narrowly defines what it is to be an “independent contractor.” Determining your work classification – whether you are an employee (exempt or non-exempt) or an independent contractor has great significance. Employees are generally entitled to benefits not provided to independent contractors. Further, non-exempt employees are entitled to earn overtime compensation whereas exempt employees and independent contractors, are not. At the rate of one and one-half times the standard rate of pay for all time spent working in excess of 40 hours, this amount can be substantial. The new interpretation provides that the current reliance on the degree of control a worker/employer has over his or her job should not carry as much weight in determining a worker’s employment status. Rather, the emphasis and focus of the analysis should be whether someone satisfies the “economic realities” test.

The economic realities test looks at a variety of factors, including:

Is the work an essential part of the employer’s business?

Does the work require special skill and initiative?

Is the relationship between the worker and the employer permanent or indefinite?

What is the degree and nature of the employer’s control?

The DOL further reasoned that the combination of this test, along the broad definition of the word “employ,” means that most workers are employees under the FLSA. This is good news for the many workers seeking greater benefits. For more information or if you have any questions concerning your classification, please contact the experienced Georgia overtime lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.

On July 6th, the Department of Labor issued its much anticipated rules designed to update the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations.  The rules sought to “define and delimit” overtime exemptions for while collar employees. Whether an employee is exempt or not can have a significant impact on a worker’s take home pay.  Those employees who are exempt are not entitled to overtime compensation regardless of how many hours worked.  On the other hand, “non-exempt” workers are entitled to be paid overtime pay at the 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 new rules were one part of President Obama’s initiative to address income inequality, and the concern that many workers who were classified as exempt should be entitled to overtime compensation.

The rules proposed to raise the current threshold to qualify as exempt from $455/week to $970/week.

Observers note that if the If these regulations are finalized, up to an additional five million workers will be entitled to overtime under the FLSA.

For more information about the FLSA or exemptions, or if you have any questions concerning your status as exempt or non-exempt, please contact the experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLP for an immediate consultation.

Whether a worker is classified as an employee or an independent contractor can have a significant effect on a person’s take home pay, as well as his or her entitlement to certain rights and benefits.  For example, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees are entitled to be paid at least minimum wage and receive overtime compensation at the rate of one and one-half times the standard rate of pay for all time spent working in excess of 40 hours in any one work week.   Alternatively, independent contractors are not entitled to receive overtime compensation regardless or how many hours worked, and do not receive many of the benefits that come with employment.

Recently in a victory for Uber drivers, a California court has determined that these drivers should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, similar to taxi cab or pizza delivery drivers.  The court determined that because her work was “integral to” the company’s business, the company should pay her expenses.

The ruling stated Defendants are in business to provide transportation services to passengers,” Plaintiff did the actual transporting of those passengers. Without drivers such as plaintiff, defendants’ business would not exist.”

This ruling has the potential to affect a significant number of workers, with more than 1 million drivers used the app world wide, and hundreds of thousands throughout the United States.  Legal observers note that this case could have a large impact on the ride sharing business as it is one of the first decisions applying the traditional “employee v. independent contractor” test to a company of this size, growth and consequence.

In this instance, the driver was seeking employment status in order to obtain reimbursement for expenses.  The court relied on earlier rulings involving the status of cab drivers, and noted that “by obtaining the clients in need of the service and providing the workers to conduct it, defendants retains all necessary control over the operation as a whole.”  This creates a “presumption of employment” unless Uber can prove otherwise.

For more information, or if you have questions please contact the experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLP.

Many companies have taken to the practice of providing their employees cell phones. This practice can blur the line between work hours and off hours, and raise legal questions concerning the right to overtime compensation.

Several currently pending lawsuits are based on the premise that companies expect employees to work unpaid and off hours via iPhones, BlackBerrys or other digital devices, and that workers are not compensated for all their time spent. Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt workers must be compensated for all time worked, including overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half their standard rate of pay. With the upcoming changes to federal labor regulations, many more workers may be able to rightfully claim that they are entitled to overtime pay.

Currently, about 44% of Internet users regularly performed some job tasks outside the workplace last year, 35% said it increased the number of hours they work.

Federal rules currently state that workers earning more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, may not be eligible for overtime pay. New rules coming from the Labor Department as early as this summer will likely raise the salary floor and entitle millions more Americans to earn overtime pay.

While many people making $30,000 aren’t doing jobs that require them to have remote access, if you increase that to $55,000 it will include a significant number of workers who are used to – and expected to use -remote access.

For more information or if you believe that you have not been paid all the compensation you are entitled to, especially as the result of having to put in after-hours work on your smart-phone, please contact the experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLP for an immediate consultation.

The Department of Labor will soon be issuing a new proposal concerning overtime pay with many observers believing that the salary threshold will be raised. Currently, workers are only guaranteed time and a half if you earn less than $455 a week ($23,660) a year.   Many think that this limit will be increased to somewhere between $42,000 to $52,000.

Depending on the make up of the ultimate proposal, raising of this threshold may affect you in several different ways.

First, you may be entitled to overtime compensation.   Currently workers who are paid more than $23,660 and perform certain managerial duties may be considered “exempt” from overtime pay. If the salary threshold is raised, more workers will be considered non-exempt and entitled to compensation at one and one-half times their hourly wage.

Additionally, you may get a slight raise. This may happen if your employer prefers to pay you a little more instead of having to pay overtime.

Your employer may also reduce the number of hours you work. If you typically work more than 40 hours in a work week, but don’t get paid overtime, once the proposed rule is adopted, you may be required to work less so that your employer can avoid the overtime pay requirement.

Alternatively, you may have your base pay lowered to offset the amount you will be earning in overtime pay.

If your employer fails to pay you overtime and you are not exempt – either now or when the new proposal is enacted, you may have an FLSA claim. For more information, or if you believe you have not been paid the compensation you deserve, please contact the experienced Georgia wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLP for an immediate consultation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to nearly all workers in the United States and provides certain basic protections and guidelines. Among these are the guarantee that workers earn at least minimum wage and that all non-exempt employees earn overtime compensation at a rate of one and one –half times their standard rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in any workweek.

However, workers who are exempt are not entitled to earn overtime pay regardless of the number of hours worked. Currently the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, however several states and cities around the country have begun raising the minimum wage in response to grassroots campaigns.

Recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted to raise the local minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. This follows Seattle voting to raise the minimum wage from $9.32 an hours to $15 by the end of 2017. Further, the City of San Francisco also approved a ballot measure favoring a wage hike to $15. Several other large cities around the country are considering such measures.
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According to Federal Labor Law – the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – If you are concerned that your employer is not paying you the wages you believe you are entitled to, and you suffer retaliation for complaining, you may be entitled to protection, including back wages and damages, if you file a lawsuit. This raises the question, what does it mean to “file a complaint?”

Several courts have addressed this question. Most recently, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals determined that an employee could be entitled to the protections of the statute after he orally complained to a supervisor that he hadn’t been paid in months. This case over ruled prior decisions that held that a complaint had to be “filed” – presumably a written document. The Second Circuit overruled its prior case law to find that the FLSA does not limit its scope to workers who file formal, written complaints with government agencies. As a result, this means that many more workers may be able to sue. The Second Circuit explained that although “a grumble in the hallway” about pay policies would not suffice, workers that make an oral or written complaint to an employer that is “sufficiently clear and detailed” may be able to recover under the statute.
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This past week, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced that his agency has finished drafting proposals which would update the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime and minimum wage laws for the first time in over a decade.

While no one knows exactly what the proposals will include, many anticipate that they will allow for more employees to earn overtime compensation. Currently, numerous employees can be considered “exempt” – this includes workers who make only $455 a week – or just under $24,000 a year. As stated by President Obama little over a year ago, “The overtime rules that establish the 40-hour workweek, a linchpin of the middle class, have eroded over the years…As a result, millions of salaried workers have been left without the protections of overtime or sometimes even the minimum wage.”
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Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) non-exempt workers are entitled to be paid overtime compensation at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in any one work week. Employers can get into trouble and may violate the FLSA if they fail to correctly calculate this amount. This means that employees may be entitled to back pay and damages.

Determining what is an employee’s regular rate of pay can be tricky. Your regular rate of pay is not just your hourly wage. Instead, it includes “all remuneration for employment paid to, or on behalf of, the employee,” except for certain payments excluded by statute.
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