One of the biggest issues that arises in wage and hour litigation is misclassification – such as when you’re employer labels you an “independent contractor” instead of an employee or a “non-exempt employee,” instead of an exempt one. How you are classified can significantly impact many issues, including your take home pay, whether you are entitled to benefits and whether you receive overtime pay.
A recent case out of Georgia looked at whether adult entertainers at the Foxy Lady Lounge should be considered employees, rather than independent contractors, and thus be entitled to wages. If you have questions concerning how you are classified it is important to consult with an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away to ensure you are receiving all the pay you deserve.
In this instance, two former Foxy Lady dancers alleged that the lounge violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay the workers overtime wages. Pursuant to the FLSA, all non-exempt employees who work in excess of 40 hours in any work week are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and one half times their standard rate of pay. Representatives of the dancers are trying to file this case as a special type of lawsuit, a class action, brought on behalf of at least fifty dancers who have been allegedly underpaid by the lounge.
In this instance, the federal lawsuit, filed in May, alleges that the Foxy Lady Lounge misclassified its adult dancers as “independent contractors” instead of “employees” to avoid paying them federally-mandated overtime pay and minimum wage.
Generally, independent contractors have control over their work, including not only what will be done but also how it will be done. However, where your employer maintains control over how your services are performed, you may be an employee – this applies even if you have some freedom. What matters is whether the employer controls the details of how the services are performed.
In addition to raising questions concerning whether the workers were misclassified, the wage and hour lawsuit also alleges that rather than paying the dancers an hourly wage, the strip club charged its dancers a “house fee” of at least $20 per shift to work at the club. The club also purportedly charged the dancers additional fees or fines for talking back to Foxy Lady’s management, failing to clean the dressing room and bathroom, or other violations of the club’s policies, according to documents filed with the court. The lawsuit alleges that these fees amount to unlawful “kickbacks” under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Misclassification is a serious issue. If you believe that your employer may have improperly classified you, it is important that you contact a top Atlanta wage and hour attorney Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.