The Importance of Attention to Detail, and Using Your Employer’s Lack of It to Your Advantage in Your FLSA Case

An American psychotherapist became famous after he published a self-help book entitled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all Small Stuff. While that may be great advice in terms of mental health, the exact opposite is often true in legal matters. Many times, the small stuff is the stuff most worth sweating, as something very small may make a very big difference in terms of success versus defeat. That’s why a knowledgeable Atlanta worker misclassification lawyer is so valuable to you, as your attorney will spot all of the small stuff that is most definitely worth sweating.

Here in Georgia, workers, when it comes to minimum wage and overtime, often rely on the protections written into federal law. With that in mind, even cases from outside Georgia may offer very useful insights for you and your minimum wage and overtime case.

A recent Fair Labor Standards Act case from North Carolina is a good example. The case involved an industry where minimum wage and overtime disputes are common: adult entertainment. The plaintiff was an exotic dancer at a club in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. Her lawsuit alleged that the club improperly classified her as an independent contractor when she really was an employee and, in the process, improperly failed to meet the overtime and minimum wage obligations of the FLSA.

Classifying dancers as independent contractors even though the nature of their work actually is consistent with employee status is common in the strip club world.

Another common thing, in this and other industries, is the inclusion of arbitration agreements in the hiring process. Arbitration agreements can be really important to you because, if your employer engages in various types of improper activities (such as failing to pay you overtime or minimum wage,) it may be advantageous to take that dispute to court, but an arbitration agreement may force you to go before an arbitrator instead of a judge and jury.

For those reasons, you may benefit from getting your arbitration agreement thrown out. There can be many different ways that an arbitration agreement may be unenforceable. The agreement could have been the product of duress or coercion. Alternately, there may have been fraud or other legal defects.

Flaws in the Contracting Documents Helped the Worker

In this dancer’s case, the problem was imprecise contract drafting. Many times, the hiring paperwork, including an arbitration agreement, are things drawn up by your employer so, if there are mistakes in those documents you, as the worker, may be able to leverage them in your favor.

The dancer worked at the “Capital Cabaret” club. The agreement this dancer signed said that it was between the dancer and “Cap Cab.” The contract said it was binding upon the “owners, directors, officers, managers, employees” of “Cap Cab.”

The problem for the club was that the dancer hadn’t sued Cap Cab, she had sued the club owner’s holding company, and that company was the one that had asked the court to enforce the arbitration agreement. It is, however, a well-settled general rule of law that, in most circumstances, an entity that is neither a signer nor a beneficiary of a contract cannot sue to enforce its terms.

That meant the only one that was entitled to enforce the arbitration agreement was “Cap Cab.” According to the North Carolina agency with which corporations are required to register, there was no “Cap Cab.” There was a “Capital Cabaret,” but it was a business alias of a different holding company that the club owner controlled.

What all that boiled down to was that the employer failed to show the required “link” between the entity seeking to enforce the agreement (the holding company) and the entity that signed on the dotted line (“Cap Cab.”) Without that linkage, the dancer was not required to go through arbitration.

In employment law cases, the critical evidence may be something big, or it may be something as small as a single word included or excluded in a contractual agreement. Whether the key details in your case are big or small, count on the Atlanta employee misclassification attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert to be there for you and to use everything available to your maximum advantage to get you everything you deserve. You can schedule an appointment by contacting us through this website or by calling 404-873-8048. Our phone lines are answered 24/7.

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