Movement To Increase Minimum Wage Gaining Steam Across the Country

May 23, 2015

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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Verbal Complaints May Suffice To Raise Retaliation Claim Under FLSA

May 15, 2015

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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New Overtime Exemption Laws To Be Revealed Soon

May 10, 2015

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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Improper Calculation of Regular Rate of Pay For Overtime May Violate FLSA

May 3, 2015

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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Misclassification Often Leads to Violations of FLSA

April 27, 2015

A new wage and hour lawsuit has been filed against the cosmetics company Sephora – alleging several violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA provides many protections to workers – including the provisions that workers are entitled to earn at least minimum wage and that non-exempt employees are entitled to earn overtime compensation at a rate of one and one-half times their standard rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty in any work week.

When employers fail to pay their workers minimum wage or abide by the overtime compensation laws, they may be found liable in a FLSA lawsuit and be required to pay damages including back wages.

In this instance, the lawsuit asserts that the company failed to pay workers the compensation they were entitled as the result of certain common employer errors such as misclassifying the workers as exempt when they were non-exempt, failing to pay deserved overtime, and failing to provide mandated breaks.

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Have You Been A Victim of Wage Theft?

April 23, 2015

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides employees several protections, however many workers still endure violations of wage and hour laws - “wage theft” – and may be entitled to recover compensation including back pay and damages.

Some of the most frequent mistakes businesses make, which then deprive workers of the pay they are entitled to include:

Misclassifying employees as independent contractors. One of the biggest mistakes employers make is misclassifying workers.

In general, the analysis regarding whether a worker is an independent contractors or an employee focuses on the degree of control a company has over the worker. if the company has financial control over the person and controls the work that the person does and how they do it, they will be considered to be an employee and not an independent contractor.

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Home Healthcare Workers File Wage and Hour Lawsuit

April 11, 2015

Recently, a group of home health care workers filed a class action wage and hour lawsuit against several health care staffing companies. The group made several claims against these agencies asserting that they were not paid the hourly wages they were entitled to, and were denied both overtime and sick days in violation of the law.

Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), nearly all workers in the United States who work for a living are entitled to earn at least minimum wage and all non-exempt workers are entitled to receive overtime compensation at a rate of one and one-half times their hourly rate of pay.

In this instance, the wage and hour class action asserts that the staffing companies failed to pay overtime compensation when the workers put in time in excess of 40 hours and also failed to give them paid time off when they were sick. These practices violated both the overtime and minimum wage protections of the FLSA.

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Mining Company Must Pay Back Wages for Misclassification

March 30, 2015

Employment law news reveals that a large mining company will be required to pay $4.5 million in back pay to several current and former workers as the result of several wage and hour violations. According to reports, the company made several errors – including misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees. Misclassification of employees is one of the most frequent errors/violations that employers make and often leads to deserving employees missing out on significant overtime pay.

Misclassification generally occurs in one of two ways, either a employers erroneously categorize their employees as independent contractors or as exempt when they should be non-exempt.

If you have questions about whether you have been “misclassified” by your employer, it’s a good idea to consult with a skilled Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

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Understaffing And Overworking Employees May Violate Wage and Hour Laws

March 28, 2015

Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a $185 million judgment against a national retailer based on wage and hour violations. The case highlights the extreme tactics some employers use to try to maximize profits, which in this instance ultimately backfired. Here, the retailer attempted to both under staff and over work its employees. Actions included not allowing workers to take rest breaks – or only shortened breaks– and requiring that they work instead. Further, some of the employees put in time “off the clock” after their scheduled shifts ended as the result of understaffing.

The court determined that the actions were so pervasive as to constitute systemic violations and thus justify the class action findings. According to the court, this — together with the manager's annual bonus compensation program — "impeded the ability of employees, across the board, to take scheduled, promised, paid rest breaks."

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Cheerleaders Settle Wage and Hour Lawsuit

March 21, 2015

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to settle a class action wage and hour lawsuit filed by it cheerleaders. The 94 former and current cheerleaders have alleged that the football program failed to pay the cheerleaders minimum wage, and that they were required to work unpaid hours including practice time, posing for calendars, charities and clinics. The Buccaneer’s own website provided that the cheerleaders were “consistently busy rehearsing, performing and volunteering for community events and appearances.”

Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) – which covers most employees in the United States - employers must pay all workers at least minimum wage and all non-exempt workers are entitled to be paid time and a half for all hours worked in excess of forty hours in any one work week. If you have questions about your pay, or believe that you have not received all the compensation you are entitled to, it is important to consult with an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.

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What Qualifies As an Exemption Under the Fair Labor Standards Act?

March 8, 2015

The Department of Labor is currently preparing revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which will be issued in the next coming months. Most observers believe that these revisions will include adjustment to the “salary basis” test. Currently, if employees make more than $455 and fall into certain “white-collar” categories, employers may classify such workers as exempt and not be required to pay overtime. However, because this threshold is so low, often workers deserving of overtime pay fall into the exempt category and are denied the opportunity to earn such compensation.

In addition to meeting the salary requirements, employees may be considered exempt where they perform certain executive, administrative or professional duties.

The executive exemption applies to those workers whose primary duty is the management of the “enterprise” or a subdivision, and who have the authority to “hire, fire, and promote employees or make such personnel recommendations that hold weight with the employer.”

Often business owners, managers and vice presidents fall into this category, but a title alone is not enough to meet the criteria.

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Oscars Raise Issue of Equal Pay

February 25, 2015

One of the standout moments at the Oscars was actress Patricia Arquette’s call for pay equality – calling for equal pay for equal work. While accepting an award, Arquette spoke out, stating "To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” she proclaimed. “It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

An important piece of her speech was that she included “every woman who gave birth” highlighting the wage inequalities facing mothers in particular.

The Equal Pay Act is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (FLSA), "prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions."

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