Even Just a Small Number of Interstate Phone Calls Was Enough to Give a Worker a Potentially Winning FLSA Case

If you have been harmed at work, such as a failure by your employer to pay you minimum wage or your failure to receive overtime pay you’ve earned, you’ll face many hurdles. One of these may be people – whether it’s your employer or third parties – trying to convince you that you have no case. Don’t rely on the opinions of the naysayers. Instead, make your decisions only after you’ve sought out and obtained advice from a knowledgeable Atlanta wage-and-hour lawyer. You might be surprised what options the law has for you.

W.S.E. was a worker whose unpaid overtime case illustrates this point well. Even though W.S.E. worked (and sued) in Florida, her case was decided by the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the court whose opinions control federal cases in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, so the ruling has a direct impact on you if you’re pursuing a Fair Labor Standards Act case in federal court here in Georgia.

W.S.E., an administrative assistant with a small pest-control services company that served the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, filed an FLSA lawsuit in which she accused her employer of improperly failing to pay overtime it owed her.

One potential problem with a case like this is that not all employers (especially smaller businesses) are obligated to comply with the FLSA, meaning that not every worker is entitled to seek relief under the statute.

Some employers may be obligated based on a concept called “enterprise coverage.” However, if your employer isn’t a hospital, a medical care provider, a nursing care facility, a school/preschool, or a government agency, and your employer’s annual volume of sales or business is less than $500,000, then enterprise coverage generally doesn’t apply to your employer.

There’s also something called “individual coverage,” which applies when your work “regularly” involves “interstate commerce.” It might be easy to look at an administrative assistant working for a small-time exterminator serving just the Southeast Florida area and assume that she does not regularly engage in interstate commerce. But assumptions can be dangerous, and that’s why it pays to have skilled counsel.

A Large Volume of Calls Wasn’t Necessary to Show ‘Regular’ Interstate Commerce 

W.S.E., as it turned out, had engaged in interstate commerce regularly. She had been making about 3-5 out-of-state phone calls per week. Some were to vendors outside Florida, others were to clients who wintered in Florida but also spent part of the year in northern homes. Those calls to vendors related mostly to billing and payment matters and the client calls typically concerned either securing payment information or getting permission to access the client’s Florida home.

That might not seem like a lot and it might be easy to be persuaded that just 3-5 calls a week would fall short of “regularly engaging in interstate commerce.” But, according to the appeals court in W.S.E.’s case, it was potentially enough. “After all, she was in Florida and she called – that is, engaged in communication with – customers and vendors in other states and, in one instance, another country. And she did so three to five times a week as part of her work… That, we think, is sufficient to permit a rational jury to conclude” that W.S.E. had a viable FLSA claim, according to the court.

So, in this instance, just a few out-of-state phone calls each week was possibly enough to allow the employee to pursue — and potentially win — her FLSA case.

If your employer has improperly failed to pay you what you should receive under the law, don’t let others intimidate you into giving up on your case before you even start. Instead, get knowledgeable advice from experienced legal professionals who you can trust. The skilled FLSA violation attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert are here to provide you with the reliable advice you need and the effective advocacy you deserve. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation regarding your situation.

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