Sometimes, some people can lull themselves into a false sense of confidence when it comes to litigating their unpaid overtime, minimum wage, improper classification, or other Fair Labor Standards Act case. They may tell themselves they don’t need an experienced Atlanta employment lawyer. They might say to themselves “I worked 40 hours each week and I only got paid $200 per week, so how hard can it be to present — and win — my minimum wage case?”
Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Even cases that seem to have very clear-cut facts in your favor often present thorny issues of law and/or court procedure that require (or at least can benefit from) the deft touch knowledgeable legal representation will provide.
Take, for example, the FLSA case of H.T., a man who worked as a builder/installer for a South Georgia construction company. The construction company allegedly “controlled all aspects” of the builder’s work, including choosing the construction sites where the builder worked and assigning the tasks the builder completed while there. The company also set the builder’s work schedule, provided him with all the necessary materials and equipment, and controlled the amount of payment the builder received, according to H.T.’s lawsuit.
Despite all that, the company classified the builder as an independent contractor. Also, the company allegedly never paid him time-and-a-half for his hours when he worked over 40 in a week.
This led to H.T.’s Fair Labor Standards Act case against the construction company, which was filed on May 13, 2021.
After you filed your complaint, the next step is servicing notice of the lawsuit to the other side. There are specific procedural rules that dictate how you must go about doing this, and many of these requirements are strictly enforced. Even a seemingly minute mistake can cause a delay… or worse.
Subsequently, days passed with no response from the defendants. Then, weeks passed and, still, no response.
At this point, you might know that the other side’s failure to respond entitles you to something… but would you know exactly what, and would you know precisely how to go about asking for it and getting it? It’s reasonable to imagine a layperson might not.
‘Default Judgments’ and When and How You Can Get One
H.T., however, was represented by counsel. His lawyer filed what’s called a “motion for a default judgment.” A default judgment is something to which a plaintiff may be entitled when the defense doesn’t file a response (or doesn’t do so before the filing deadline.)
A default judgment isn’t awarded automatically simply because the defense missed a deadline. Your complaint and other court pleadings must lay out “a sufficient basis” for the judgment you’ve requested. That means you must have given the court “sufficient factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
The judge in H.T.’s case concluded that the pleadings the builder’s attorney submitted did just that, adequately laying out a case of unpaid overtime as well as employee misclassification. This led the court to grant the motion and enter a judgment (and an award of damages) in favor of the builder.
Without skillful representation, H.T.’s case very well could have been less successful, or at least the process less efficient. At the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, our team of highly experienced and diligent Atlanta wage and hour attorneys is dedicated to helping workers across Georgia to get the fair compensation they deserve. When your case requires going to court, count on us to provide you with the in-depth legal knowledge needed for success. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation.