As with recent years, wage and hour lawsuits continue to be one of the most rapidly growing areas of employment litigation. Wage and hour lawsuit often arise out of the situation where employers either accidentally or intentionally fail to pay workers what they are entitled to by misclassifying them as independent contractors rather than employees, failing to pay them overtime pay, or otherwise not paying them what they deserve.
If you have questions about wage and hour lawsuits, or believe that you may not have received all the pay you deserve, it’s a good idea to consult with a top Georgia wage and hour attorney right away.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to nearly all places of employment and generally requires that non-exempt employees be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay. Employers may try to get around paying overtime by either classifying a worker as an “independent contractor” or labeling them exempt.
Whether you can lawfully be considered an independent contractor depends on a variety of issues – primarily focused on issues of control. The IRS explains: You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed. The inappropriate classification of a worker as an independent contractor may be the basis for a wage and hour claim based on misclassification.
Likewise, classifying a worker as exempt rather than non-exempt can also be problematic. Exempt employees are typically not entitled to overtime pay regardless of the number of hours worked.
Misclassification lawsuits have steadily grown in numbers. 2013 saw an increase by 10% in FLSA lawsuits filed as compared to 2012. It doesn’t appear that these types of lawsuits are decreasing. Further, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has become increasingly aggressive investigating companies that misclassify employees.
However, if you believe you have not been paid all that you deserve, it is not necessary to go through the sometimes-difficult process of filing a claim with the EEOC. Rather, you may file a private lawsuit to begin an investigation into your employer’s actions.
If other people at your company have also been denied overtime, you may be able to file a special type of FLSA class action, known as a collective action, which will help you bring the maximum pressure to bear on your employer to change its ways and to pay you all the compensation you are owed.
For more information about wage and hour lawsuits, or if you believe you may not have been paid all that you deserve, please contact the experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.