Georgia Wage and Hour Lawyer
Earn an honest living. Make an honest wage. A day’s work for a day’s pay.
These are more than just clichés. They are expressions about what we all believe is fair: being fully paid for your work. When you are not paid what you are owed, your employer may be committing wage theft. While wage theft can occur any time you are employed, it is especially prevalent when employees are owed overtime pay.
At Scholle Law, we believe everyone deserves fair compensation for their work. If your employer has withheld wages or otherwise underpaid you, our team is here to help. We are available 24/7, and your first consultation is always free.
Call us at 866-592-1296 or send us a message online to speak with a Georgia wage and hour lawyer today. You can also use our Overtime Calculator to determine if you may be owed more than you were paid.
What Is a Wage and Hour Claim?
A “wage and hour claim” is simply the legal way of saying that your current or former employer did not give you all of the pay you earned. Like many other states across the country, Georgia does not have any state-specific wage and hour laws. Instead, Georgia uses the federal wage and hour laws established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The FLSA governs working hours and wages, including overtime requirements for employees who are 16 years old and older. The federal statute establishes what overtime is, who is eligible for overtime, how overtime should be calculated, and much more.
Federal Wage and Overtime Laws
There is no legal limit on how many hours a person can work during a specific workweek. However, employees covered under the FLSA must receive overtime pay once they work more than 40 hours during a single workweek.
After working 40 hours, covered employees must be paid an overtime rate of no less than 1.5 times their regular rate. Your employer can always pay you more if they want, but the law requires that they pay you at a minimum “time-and-a-half.”
Overtime pay is not required for working on holidays, evenings, or weekends. Employers can pay you more for working those shifts, but they are not required to give you overtime for them — unless, of course, you have already worked 40 hours that week.
Whether you are entitled to overtime depends on a variety of factors, such as your job, your experience and training, whether you are salaried or paid hourly, and more. Even if you know for sure that you are eligible for overtime, your employer may still try to find ways around paying you fairly.
Who is Entitled to Overtime Pay?
The general rule is that the FLSA requires employers to pay overtime to employees who are covered under the law. Think of it this way: Not being eligible for overtime is the exception, rather than the rule. Therefore, an employer would basically have to prove some reason why you do not have to get overtime.
In order to get out of paying you overtime, your boss would need to prove that your job falls under a special category that exempts them from paying you that overtime.
The legal expression for those employees who do not fall under an exception is “non-exempt.” This is the term that covers most employees and means employees must be paid overtime. However, if someone is exempt, then the employer does not have to pay the overtime.
Common Overtime Wage and Hour Violations in Georgia
A “wage and hour violation” occurs when you do not get the overtime pay you are legally entitled to under the FLSA. Some examples of these wage and hour violations relating to overtime include:
- When an employer wrongly categorizes you as an exempt employee or as an independent contractor, and then they can claim you are ineligible for overtime
- When an employer makes you work “off the clock” before your shift starts or after you have finished for the day, but they refused to give you any overtime pay
- When an employer pays you only at your base rate rather than 1.5 times your normal salary for overtime
- When an employer makes you work through lunch breaks and other rest periods without compensation
Contact a Georgia Wage and Hour Lawyer Today
Wage and hour laws come down to one basic concept: You deserve to be fully compensated for the work you perform. If your employer refuses to pay you properly, especially when you work overtime, you may be able to recover your lost wages and other damages with the help of a Georgia wage and hour lawyer.
When you call Scholle Law, we will review the basics of your case and help you determine your next steps, whether you should file a complaint with the Department of Labor, file a wage and hour lawsuit, or negotiate a settlement directly with your employer.
Contact us today and speak with a professional with a wage and hour lawyer about your Georgia overtime claim or other problems you may have with your employer. We are available 24/7, and your first consultation is free.
Call us at 866-592-1296 or send us a message online.
How Do I Get the Overtime I'm Owed?
First, you can file a complaint with the nearest office of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Labor Department will investigate your claim, and if they find evidence to support you, they can work with your employer to settle the wage and hour claim, or the Labor Department can file suit against the company. The Labor Department's goal is to get you your back salary, and sometimes (such as in the case of the company's being a repeat offender), they can get more money as a penalty.
The second way the law allows you to obtain your back pay is to make a legal claim against your company for your back wages. In this type of wage and hour claim, you sue on behalf of yourself as an individual. In large-scale situations where other employees have also been deprived of their overtime pay, you can file a "class action" lawsuit. In a class-action lawsuit, a few employees sue on behalf of all of the employees at your company who have been shorted their overtime pay.
While you deserve your overtime pay, you might think that reporting the company or filing a lawsuit is more trouble than it is worth. This is another reason why hiring an Atlanta wage and hour lawyer is so important at the beginning of the process. Because a lawyer who is skilled in wage and hour claims can evaluate your case and help you find the fastest, easiest way to resolve your complaint and get you paid.
Usually, your lawyer will be able to work out a settlement between you and your employer — often where your employer agrees to pay you what they owe (plus interest) in exchange for your promising not to file a lawsuit.
You may also wonder if your employer can retaliate against you, either for contacting the Labor Department or even talking to an attorney about your claim. While we cannot promise your employer will not try to retaliate in some way, what we can tell you is that it is against the law for the company to retaliate against you while the Labor Department is investigating a claim, or for going to a lawyer about your concerns. And if your employer does retaliate, then we would just add that to your complaint or lawsuit as another reason why your employer needs to pay you for more than back wages.
Because overtime eligibility can be complicated, it is important to say that if it ultimately turned out that you were not entitled to overtime pay, your employer still cannot act against you for going to a lawyer. So even if they were right about the overtime pay, you could still sue them if they retaliated for your asking about it.
What Are Georgia's Overtime Laws?
There are no Georgia state laws specifically relating to overtime. Instead, the state relies on federal laws regarding overtime to protect workers within the state.
For covered employees, a "workweek" means seven consecutive days. For example, your workweek could be from Monday at 9 a.m. to the following Monday, or it could also start on Wednesday at 11 p.m. and run to the next Wednesday.
When the workweek begins does not matter, in the eyes of the law. All that matters is what happens in the following 168 hours, meaning the seven consecutive days. If you work more than 40 hours within one 168-hour period, then you are entitled to overtime if you are covered by the FLSA.
Some employees are paid by the week, some biweekly; some get paid once a month, but none of that impacts your ability to get overtime. Overtime is still based on how many hours you worked in a single one-week period. Working 60 hours one week and then 20 hours the next week does not "average out." You are still entitled to overtime for the 60-hour week.
Normally, you should receive any overtime pay due you on your next payday, when you would be paid for the rest of your time.
Can I Get Overtime Pay as a Blue Collar Worker?
Blue-collar employees are employees who are working with their hands in some kind of physical labor. You may be considered a blue-collar employee if you:
- Work with your hands
- Put physical energy into your job
- Do a repetitive task (such as work on an assembly line)
- Learn your job through on-the-job training or an apprenticeship (rather than advanced education at college)
- Are not a manager or supervisor of other employees
Unless they fall into an exception, most blue-collar, full-time employees should be paid overtime when working more than 40 hours in a workweek.
One of the particular challenges for blue-collar employees is that not all blue-collar workers get paid an hourly rate. Some get paid by the day or shift they work; others get paid by the piece they finish.
If you are someone who does not get paid by the hour but gets another type of payment, do not think that means you are out of luck when it comes to overtime. You are still entitled to overtime.
For example, if you get paid by the day, you divide your salary by the number of days and hours worked, and you get that rate for any hours over 40.
If you are paid by the piece, you add up what you got paid during an entire pay period, then divide that by the hours. And if you had any hours when you had to wait for work, those hours of waiting still count for your 40 hours and overtime, just as much as the hours when you worked productively.
Can White Collar Workers Get Overtime Pay?
White-collar employees work in offices and typically use their minds, knowledge, and education, rather than physical ability, to do their jobs. They are also often supervisors of other employees or business owners.
While most people think blue collar/white collar determines eligibility for overtime pay, that is not true. White-collar employees may also be entitled to overtime.
It is only when white-collar employees fall into the categories below that they too may not qualify for overtime:
- If you are an owner of the business (owning at least 20% of the business)
- If you are a manager
- If you are working in some administrative positions
- If you are in a profession where education, training, or creativity make the difference in pay and responsibility
- If you work in certain industries (computer technology, motion picture production, education, public agencies)
- If you are in sales
But even in white-collar employment, the wage and hour law still starts with an expectation that you are eligible for overtime pay unless you are an owner.
What Is the Management Exemption to the Overtime Rule?
For an employee to be considered a "manager" and therefore not entitled to overtime, a Georgia employer would have to show that:
- You have to earn a base salary of at least $684 a week (not including other money to cover things like room and board);
- Your primary job responsibility is to manage other employees, and you have to be managing at least two other people; AND
- You have to have input on who is hired and fired, promoted, or any other decision regarding other employees' status.
For the manager exemption, the one that is probably the most difficult to understand is the "primary job responsibility." We mean that the main responsibility of your job is to take care of the people who work for you. You can still do the work alongside the people who report to you.
For example, a manager on an assembly line can still spend time on the line each day. But the manager's main focus — what they do, how they spend their time, what determines if they will get a raise or promotion — should be on how they manage the people they supervise.
What Is the Administrative Exemption to the Overtime Rule?
The administrative exemption covers some white-collar employees who work in the company's administration office and may (or may not) be managers.
Examples of positions that may fall under the administrative exception are human resources staff; public relations; accountant and legal staff; purchasing; and computer maintenance and information technology (IT) departments.
But, once again, just because you work in one of these categories does not necessarily mean you cannot collect overtime pay. Instead, for this administrative exception to apply, administrative employees:
- Should be earn at least $684 a week
- Work office jobs that are not manual (physical) labor
- Do things that relate to running the business operations of the company, rather than produce the work, product, etc. the company does
- Be able to make at least some decisions on how they do their jobs
- Be able to make some decisions on how the company will operate
What Is the Professional Exemption to the Overtime Rule?
Another set of employees who may not be eligible for overtime pay falls under the category of "professional." First off, no matter what type of career you may have, you must earn at least $684 a week for this exemption to apply.
After that, the wage and hour law requires that, to not qualify for overtime wages, a professional employee:
- Must perform work requiring advanced knowledge;
- The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; AND
- The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
This wage and hour overtime law exemption applies to those in professions such as lawyers, doctors, and architects. It also covers those such as certified public accountants and schoolteachers.
In the case of other jobs, the amount of professional training needed for a job is important. For example, registered nurses and physician assistants are normally considered to be professionals for this statute, while practical nurses with less training are not (and are therefore still eligible for overtime). Similarly, cooks are not considered professionals under this law, but a chef who went to a four-year culinary academy may be.
The professional category also covers employees who have a "creative" career relating to the arts. But again, there are still exceptions on top of exemptions. For instance, while a professional writer could be considered a creative professional, if the writer is a full-time reporter who is strictly supervised, with a very limited list of things they are allowed to write about and strict requirements for their work, then they could be back in the non-exempt wage and hour law category and allowed overtime.
What Is the "Highly Compensated Employee" Exemption?
The "highly compensated employee" exemption applies to some white-collar employees who have jobs related to the administrative, professional, or executive categories, but they do not satisfy all of the requirements for those other exemptions.
You could fall under the highly compensated employee exemption if all of the following apply:
- You earn total annual compensation of $107,432 or more;
- You are paid at least $684 each week (either as salary or a fee and not including bonuses, commissions, or other benefits);
- Your primary duty includes performing office or non-manual work; AND
- You usually perform at least one of the duties or responsibilities of an exempt executive, administrative, or professional employee.
The annual and weekly salaries listed for this exemption apply to employment on or after January 1, 2020.
What Industries Are Exempt from Overtime Laws?
There are some industries that, due to the nature of their work, have some specific overtime rules of their own. Some of the most common examples are commissioned sales and working on a small farm.
If you work in Georgia's film and television industry, with a base salary that's more than $1,043 a week (even if you only work a couple of days a week), you might be an exempt employee.
In the fields of computer technology, those who design software and hardware can be considered white collar workers, so they are exempt (no overtime) employees. However, those who work on computer repairs may be considered blue collar workers, so they may be eligible for overtime pay.
Teachers may be exempt under the professional worker exemption. At the same time, those who work in school administration may be exempt under the administrative exemption of the wage and hour federal law. What is considered "administrative" is incredibly broad when it comes to schools. It relates to actual administrators (e.g., school board employees) and those working in the front office. But the FLSA can also apply to other school employees, from janitors and lunchroom monitors to school psychologists.
How Do I Report Wage and Hour Violations in Georgia?
In Georgia, you can report a wage and hour violation by contacting one of these offices for the Department of Labor:
Atlanta District Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
61 Forsyth Street, SW Room 7M10
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (678) 237-0525
Atlanta North Area Office
233 Peachtree Street, N.E. Suite 650
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 593-1889
Savannah Area Office
US Dept. of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
450 Mall Blvd., Suite D
Savannah, GA 31406
Phone: (912) 652-4221
The Department of Labor also has a national toll-free number you can call to ask questions about wage and hour laws and your eligibility for overtime pay: 1-866-487-9243.