Sometimes, a worker’s requesting or taking Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will cause an unethical employer to fire that employee wrongfully. Other times, though, a legally compliant employer legitimately needs to fire an employee on FMLA leave. Whether you are an employee caught in the former scenario or an employer thrust into the latter circumstance, you need a clear understanding of your FMLA rights and responsibilities, which is where the advice of an experienced Atlanta FMLA leave lawyer can be vital.

An example of the latter of those two FMLA situations occurred in a case that ended in federal litigation recently. The lawsuit pitted a municipal employer against one of its park employees.

The employee, M.M., was an assistant park manager who started and maintained a food pantry at the park’s family center. In early 2022, the city’s HR team enlisted a local police detective to investigate allegations that the manager had been unloading donated pantry items at her home and keeping them for herself

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As an employer or an employee, compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act is important to you. If you are a worker, non-compliance often means denial of the total compensation the law says your employer owes you. As an employer, non-compliance can have numerous damaging and costly consequences. If you have questions about FLSA compliance, including classification and exemption issues, make sure you are getting reliable answers by contacting an experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyer.

For employers, misclassification is a common basis for FSA violation liability. Errors can occur in the context of employer-versus-independent contractor classifications or exempt-employee-versus-non-exempt-employee determinations. When deeming a worker as an exempt employee, it is important to identify all bases under which that worker may be exempt under the law, as a recent ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates.

The unpaid overtime case involved an auto dealership group in West Palm Beach, Florida, and three of its call center employees. The employees, who worked in the dealership’s “business development center,” a separate building next door to the dealership’s auto showroom, spoke to prospective car buyers over the phone to convince them to make appointments to visit the showroom and speak with showroom salespersons.

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These days, ads for artificial intelligence-related programs and applications seem to be everywhere. AI has the potential to do many beneficial things like making workplaces more efficient and safer. It also has the possibility of negative impacts, including in the area of employment law. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently released a publication warning of ways that AI can lead employers into violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Whether or not they are tied to AI, an experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyer can provide very human answers to all your questions about FLSA compliance.

The WHD’s recent publication, Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2024-1, looked at ways AI could lead an employer into non-compliance. The first area the division discussed was AI productivity monitors.

Modern AI technology can monitor workers “in real time,” using metrics like website browsing, the number of computer keystrokes or mouse clicks, or eye movements (via webcam,) to ascertain an employee’s activity and productivity levels. While employers may use this technology and these metrics to assess employees’ diligence and productivity, those determinations do not necessarily govern how the law calculates workers’ hours worked.

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Many bartenders, restaurant servers, and others in the hospitality industry depend on tips for a substantial portion of their compensation. In these industries, minimum wage and overtime disputes are common, whether they arise from good-faith recordkeeping errors or intentional misconduct by employers. Whether you are an employer or a tipped employee, look to an experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyer when you have questions about the laws and regulations regarding tipped work.

If you are a tipped employee or your team includes tipped employees, it is important to understand thoroughly the FLSA and the Labor Department’s rules regarding tipped workers.

The FLSA bars employers from paying tipped workers only in tips. Minimum wage law requires employers of tipped workers to pay those employees sub-minimum wages, but that sub-minimum floor is not zero. For states that do not have standards above the FLSA requirement, federal law controls.

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The Family and Medical Leave Act grants substantial rights to workers and has the potential to impose significant penalties on employers who fail to comply with the law, as an employer in neighboring Alabama found out recently. Given how costly a violation can be (either to you as an employer or a worker,) it is highly important to know your FMLA rights and responsibilities. If you have questions or concerns, you should consult an experienced Atlanta FMLA retaliation lawyer.

An investigation that the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division recently wrapped up is a good example of how employers can engage in FMLA retaliation, possibly even without malicious motivation.

The case involved two workers at an auto plant west of Birmingham, Alabama. One worker sought FMLA leave to care for a family member, and the other requested time off due to their own medical condition.

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Commentators sometimes cast independent contractor status as a tool for employers to exploit employees and avoid paying those workers properly. In reality, independent contractor status can provide substantial advantages to workers… and some prefer it. With the U.S. Department of Labor’s new final rule regarding employee-versus-independent-contractor status having taken effect on March 11, independent contractors and hiring entities may wonder what they can do to ensure compliance with the new rule. A good place to start is peaking to a knowledgeable Atlanta wage and hour lawyer.

As noted above, some workers firmly prefer independent status. Independent contractor status allows workers to set their own schedule/hours, control how they do their work, and, in many situations, not have the income limitations that salaried work does.

One industry with many independent contractors is real estate. According to the National Association of Realtors, around 89% of its members work as independent contractors.

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One way for an employer to defeat an employee’s unpaid overtime claim is to establish that the worker was exempt from those provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The law has several types of FLSA exemptions, including the executive exemption, the administrative exemption, the professional exemption, the computer employee exemption, the outside sales exemption, and the highly compensated employee exemption, among others. Whether you are an employee or an employer, understanding the scope of these exemptions, and when they do (or don’t) apply can be crucial. An experienced Atlanta wage-and-hour lawyer can provide much-needed advice and information about these exemptions.

A recent case from the Middle District of Georgia looked at one exemption in particular – the administrative exemption.

According to the employees’ lawsuit, their employer illegally failed to pay them overtime compensation in violation of the FLSA. The employer contended that it did not owe the women overtime pay because the administrative exemption applied.

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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) creates several responsibilities for employers, not the least of which is proper FMLA-related recordkeeping. The law allows employers to use a rolling 12-month period to assess an employee’s entitlement to leave. That allowance, however, means that the employer must accurately monitor and record both workers’ FMLA usage (and remaining leave time) and the date when the 12-month period rolls over. Failure to do so accurately can lead to erroneous FMLA denials and, as a result, create liability exposure based on an FMLA interference lawsuit. If you’re an employer seeking to ensure complete FMLA compliance or a worker who believes you’ve been harmed by a wrongful denial of FMLA leave, an experienced Atlanta FMLA interference lawyer can provide essential advice and information about your situation.

To win an FMLA interference case in federal court in Georgia (or Florida or Alabama,) an employee must demonstrate that she “(1) ‘was denied a benefit to which she was entitled under the FMLA,’ and (2) as a result was prejudiced in some way that is remediable’” by a court judgment.

A recent FMLA case from here in North Georgia shows how a recordkeeping issue and the confusion it possibly caused created a potential instance of FMLA interference.

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Once you find yourself involved in a federal Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit (whether as a plaintiff or a defendant,) you might imagine an elaborate litigation process with an intensely contested trial. Sometimes, that is what happens. Other times, different methods of resolution (that are frequently less involved and less expensive) may represent a more advantageous way to conclude a dispute. A skilled Atlanta wage-and-hour lawyer can be essential in helping you get a fair and just outcome – through litigation when necessary and through other means when that approach better serves your needs.

Many workers and/or employers may not fully understand how mediating an FLSA case works. A recent unpaid overtime case from the federal Southern District of Georgia court provides a useful background in walking through the process.

The Augusta-based employer allegedly violated the FLSA by improperly failing to pay one of its employees, P.J., overtime compensation and retaliating against him for complaining.

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The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many changes in the world of work, including a massive expansion of remote work. While remote work has been a boon to workers in many ways, it further blurs an already eroding line between when a worker is “on the clock” and off-the-clock time. Both employers and employees should be mindful that employees are entitled under the law to receive compensation for all the time spent working. If a non-exempt employee does off-the-clock work and doesn’t receive compensation, that may potentially represent a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Whether you are a non-exempt employee or an employer, a knowledgeable Atlanta wage and hour lawyer to discuss your situation and whether it complies with what the FLSA requires.

Remote work isn’t the only issue. The massive proliferation of high-speed internet connectivity and “smart” devices means workers can be “plugged in” to work at all hours and at any location.

Recently, a Duluth-based business researched the work employees do… and when they do it. The results were noteworthy. According to a Valdosta Today report, the study found that 40% of the nation’s workers were “working longer than their contracted hours.” Georgia is above the national average with 43% of Peach State workers reporting that they did work off the clock.

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