Overtime Law is Misunderstood by Many Employees

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.

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13 responses to “Overtime Law is Misunderstood by Many Employees”

  1. JusticeATL says:

    People deserve to know the truth about overtime!

  2. Martin Millard says:

    I’m the General Manager of a Pizza restaurant. I won’t name the chain, but it’s one of the big ones. I’ve been with the company for 6 years and have always been a top performer. I’ve consistently hit my numbers and have never had any problems running my store. In the past I have worked 40 to 45 hours per week in the store and another 10 to 15 hours outside the store, on marketing and other business related tasks. In the last year or so, sales across the nation have dropped and my employer is now requiring that all salaried managers work 50 hours in the store. When I first started with the company I didn’t mind working additional hours, but now I have a family and the extra 5 to 10 hours is impacting my home life.
    My question is: Can my employer force me to work 50 hours a week? If so, am I entitled to overtime?

  3. Jerry Terrell says:

    I work for a major Manufacturer we work 40hr week overtime sat. in excess of 8 hours is this legal under Ga law.

  4. John Smith says:

    I know working over 40hrs requires my employer to pay overtime, but is it legal for them to tell me to take a longer lunch so they dont have to pay me the overtime???

  5. tom says:

    Does the number of employees have anything to do with whether or not an employer has to pay overtime.
    I’ve heard businesses under 8 employees are exempt.

  6. There is no number where you are exempt. For those powers not given to the Federal govt under the Constitution are reserved to the States but, with the Commerce Clause the Fed can regulate even small businesses. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)applies to all businesses that have $500,000 or more in annual sales. Employees may also still be covered if they work in “interstate commerce”. Courts say it includes companies sending or receiving mail from out of state, making interstate phone calls, or handling goods that have moved interstate.
    In summary if it is not a tiny local only business, overtime laws probably apply.

  7. michael bryant says:

    i work for a construction co. and sience iv worked there about 3 1/2 years i havent recieved any overtime sometimes working 50-60 + hours a week . also i drive the company truck and my time starts when i get to the shop and time ends when we leave the jobsite , it just doesnt really seem fair that im transporting other workers and equip . on my own time . is there anything that i can do about any of this legally ?

  8. Chris Murphy says:

    How about Mechanics working on only commission? We worked 50 hour weeks for years and only received what work we did even having to be there all those hours?

  9. tonya mcelroy says:

    If you work for a hospital in Georgia as a nurse and they are requiring you to take classes that will put you over 40 hrs per week. Are they required to pay overtime? They are saying they don’t because it is not direct patient care.

  10. It depends on whether The classes are state requires to stay licensed or whether the hospital just wants you to take them. What is your situation?

  11. ZB says:

    if i am a salaried restaurant manager that does not recive tips or any other compensation for working other than my salary, should i recieve overtime? i regularly work 60 hour work weeks and would like to know if im being shorted. im not contract labor or anything like that. and i will start to recive a bounus on partial sales revenue soon but hevent recived one as of yet.

  12. john s. says:

    just wondered if you work for a company, in 2 differing departments, at anywhere from 45 to 60 hours a week,and getting two separate checks to keep each check less than 40 hours…are you still owed overtime?…(the checks from the payroll company are drawn on the same division….)

  13. Patricia Williams says:

    I work for a home health care agency. My supervisor stated the owner doesn’t want to pay the employers ovettime. The supervisor wanted me to sign this companion pay form. It stated that if were working as companion workers the law permits this;at least this what I was told. My question is can they do this to me.