The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law that governs the payment of minimum wage and overtime pay. It requires most employers to pay overtime to employees at a rate of at least 1.5x for all “hours worked” over 40 hours in any work week, defined as a 7-day period. Even if you are paid every two weeks and work fewer than 40 hours during the second week, or do not total 80 hours for the two week pay period, you still are entitled to overtime pay for any work week in which you worked 40 or more hours.
Salaried Employees and “Independent Contractors” Can Be Entitled to Overtime
“Salaried” does not necessarily mean you should be classified as “exempt” from overtime; this is a common misconception. Employees that are paid a salary (vs. an hourly wage) can be as entitled to overtime pay as an hourly wage worker, if their duties are such that they are not supervising at least 2 employees or involved in the actual management and administration of the core operations of the business (e.g., back office, accounting, etc.). The same is true for workers who are inappropriately classified as “independent contractors”. A careful evaluation of the facts is necessary to determine if the worker has a valid wage or overtime claim.
Limitations Period and “Stopping the Clock”
The FLSA normally permits employees to recover unpaid overtime for work performed 2 years before a lawsuit is filed in court, and continuing forward until the case is resolved. You may be eligible to recover for work performed up to 3 years before a lawsuit is filed if your employer was aware that its employment and pay practices violated the FLSA, but “disregarded” these obligations. Only the filing of a lawsuit in court will “stop the clock” from running on your overtime claim. A complaint to your supervisor, the company, or the Department of Labor generally will not “stop the clock.” As a result, an employee is well-served by filing suit as soon as they learn that their employer violated overtime law. Every day that passes without filing suit is one less day of work for which an employee can recover.
Unpaid Overtime and Liquidated Damages
An employee who brings a successful overtime pay lawsuit can recover his/her unpaid wages and liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are defined by the FLSA as being double the unpaid wages due to the employee. Thus, if you are awarded $5,000 in unpaid overtime wages, if the facts support it, you may be entitled to get an additional $5,000 as liquidated damages, bringing your total recovery to $10,000.
Reach out to Battleson Law, for your complimentary consultation to get started. Employee overtime wage cases are generally handled on a contingency basis, and we don’t get our fee until you settle or win. We serve Metro Atlanta and all of Georgia.