Federal law requires that Georgia employees get paid overtime when they work more than forty hours and yet many bosses lie to their employees about eligibility and whether salary covers the amount. As a overtime lawyer I tried a case in front of Judge O’Kelly in Northern District Court in April that illustrates the profound imbalance of power between bosses and employees and makes it clear why this law is so critical to protecting employees.
In our case, the employee was a welder on commercial construction sites and was a Katrina refugee. He worked 10-12 hour days and the employer rented him a mobile home. When the employee asked for his overtime pay the employer threatened to put him out on the street and to fire him. Because the Gainesville, Georgia man did not know his right to overtime pay was Federally protected, he felt powerless. He endured this for almost two years before he read an article explaining his rights. This post will go over some fundamental issues dealing with overtime law and situations to look out for.
Overtime pay in Georgia is owed by the employer when the employee works more than 40 hours in a week. Overtime pay is calculated by multiplying your normal hourly rate by 1.5. If you are paid salary, on commission or on a project by project basis, we can still figure out your regular rate of pay. An effective lawyer in Atlanta, can walk you through the complexities.
Certain groups of employees are frequently cheated out of their overtime pay in Georgia: Assistant Managers, Supervisors, businesses with Automatic Time Clocks, Cable Installers, Independent Contractors that work for one boss for years, employees at Call Centers, people that have to change into work uniforms for their job (you have to be paid for that period of time),drivers and Field Service Technicians, Leasing Consultants(they must be paid for time driving between job sites), Loan Officers and retail sales people.
It is important to know that these cases are handled on a contingency, which means that the employee does not pay the attorney’s fees.
If we succeed in proving that your boss was supposed to be paying you overtime in Georgia, you are entitled to the overtime wages plus interest plus liquidated damages in the same amount you should have been paid. For example, if you are owed $5,000 in wages, you are entitled to that $5,000 plus $5,000 as a penalty for a total of $10,000. Your employer also has to pay your legal fees and costs.
In order to calculate overtime pay when you are paid on a salary in Georgia, take your weekly rate of pay and divide it by 40 hours. To find your correct rate for overtime pay in Georgia, multiply that number by 1.5. Many salaried employees just think they have to work late and at home as part of their salary and that is not the law.
Many people worry that they do not keep their own records well enough to prove in court how long they worked. Realize though that under the law, it is your employer’s responsibility to maintain records of the hours you worked. Under the Fair Wage laws, it is their burden to disprove your wage/overtime claim.
We will get into more details in future articles.