You probably know that federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), requires employers pay employees overtime pay, or time and a half, for any time the employee works more than 40 hours in a single work-week. The same law requires employees receive at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25. You may have realized that this law does not cover all employees (sorry fellow lawyers, we don’t have a right to overtime).
However, whether an employee is covered or exempt requires an understanding of the law and a sometimes-complex legal analysis. Unfortunately, many employers misunderstand these laws, which results in employees being denied overtime pay or minimum wage they are legally entitled to. It is also common for employers to refer to an employee as an “independent contractor” in an effort to get around those overtime and minimum wage laws, whether they intend to violate the FLSA or not. It simply does not matter how your employer refers to your employment. You may still have the legal right to receive overtime and minimum wage. This could be true regardless of whether you are called an independent contractor or employee or you are paid commissions, tips, or bonuses.
The FLSA is one of the strongest laws allowing employees to enforce their rights. If you are an employee who should be, but is not receiving, overtime or minimum wage pay, you can file a civil action against your employer for the amounts owed to you. If a company is engaged in wide-spread violations of the FLSA, the law also allows employees to bring their claims in a single action. You may be entitled to receive unpaid overtime or minimum wage for a period going back up to two to three years, and, in some circumstances, a court could double that amount as “liquidated damages.” Regardless of the amount of your damages, you may also be entitled to have your attorney fees paid by your employer if you are successful. While no one can predict how an employer may react, they are forbidden by the law from firing or retaliating against an employee for enforcing his or her rights.
The attorneys at Cooper, Barton & Cooper have experience helping employees enforce their right to receive overtime pay and minimum wage in federal court. If you are an employee who believes that your employer has not paid you properly, or if you are an employer who wants to ensure that you are complying with these laws, then pick up the phone and call (478) 202-7050 to see if we can help.
It is important to act quickly as you have a limited amount of time to file a claim.