Federal Appeals Court Holds That Amount of Attorney Fees Awarded in Fair Labor Standards Act Case in Georgia Was Reasonable Under the Circumstances

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes a minimum wage and sets forth the rules that apply to overtime pay. This important statute also codifies certain recordkeeping requirements that are to be imposed upon employers, and it has provisions designed to prevent the exploitation of children in the workforce.

If someone believes that they may have an Atlanta wage and hour claim, it is important that they speak with legal counsel as soon as possible. There are several important steps to asserting one’s legal rights under the FLSA, and deadlines may apply.

A successful FLSA litigant may be entitled to several types of damages, including a court order requiring the defendant employer to pay the plaintiff employee’s attorney’s fees and related litigation costs. The plaintiff employee may also be entitled to monetary compensation for unpaid overtime wages, among other damages.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiff was a driver who sought to assert his legal rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the plaintiff, the defendant, whom he considered his employer, treated him as an employee even though he was classified as an independent contractor. In support of this assertion, the plaintiff stated that the defendant controlled his work hours, required him to wear a shirt with the defendant’s company logo, and required him to perform certain tasks that were typically performed by the defendant’s “warehouse employees.” According to the plaintiff, he was fired after complaining to his supervisor that he had not been paid additional compensation for certain overtime hours.

The parties reached a settlement regarding some of the issues in their dispute, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia resolved the remaining issues, including the amount of attorney fees due the plaintiff’s attorney. The defendant sought appellate review.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The reviewing tribunal first noted that a Georgia state administrative law judge had determined that, under Georgia law, the plaintiff was an employee – not an independent contractor – for purposes of unemployment compensation. With regard to the plaintiff’s claim that he had been wrongfully denied overtime pay under the FLSA and that he had been wrongfully terminated for asserting his rights under such statute, the court found that the parties had reached a settlement under which the defendant was to pay $26,000 in damages to the plaintiff, along with the “reasonable fees and expenses” of his legal counsel.

In affirming the amount of legal fees awarded by the district court, the federal appeals tribunal observed that the defendant had not objected to the hourly rate requested by the plaintiff’s attorney and that the number of hours expended were reasonable under the circumstances, noting that FLSA cases tended to be highly fact-sensitive, and that the defendant had not settled the case early.

Call a FLSA Attorney in Atlanta

If you believe that you are due overtime compensation or other money damages available under state or federal law, please call a FLSA attorney¬†at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert by dialing 404-873-8048 or using the contact form on this website. Please act soon, as an employee’s rights under the law may be forfeited if he or she does not act promptly in filing a claim under the applicable federal statute.

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