Showing posts with label dol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dol. Show all posts

Thursday, August 11, 2016

See you in court: New overtime rule means more litigation for Georgia employers

With the new overtime rule effective December 1, 2016, more Georgia employers can expect to be facing their employees and former employees in court.

The new rule raises the minimum salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay from the current $455/week to $913/week ($47,476 per year) and automatically increases the threshold every three years based on wage growth over time.

In Georgia, overtime rules are enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency has the authority to order back wage payments and impose fines for employers who violate the law, but the agency is already dealing with a backlog of complaints and the new rule will only add to their burden of cases.

As a result, more employees and former employees will be turning to private employment attorneys to defend their rights in court.

For companies, this will mean spending substantial amount of time in court defending their job classification systems.

As Atlanta television station WXIA-TV recently discovered when reporting on a story involving a local restaurant, the agency is already struggling to enforce the existing law, and the new rule will simply add to their current backlog.

The television station found that since 2000 Georgia companies did not pay 89,766 employees more than $62 million.

While WHD can impose fines, it is highly unusual, as the television reporter found that of the 6,582 Georgia companies cited by USDOL for wage theft, only 8 percent were required to pay a fine.

The new rule will especially impact employees currently classified as first-level supervisors in low-wage industries such as restaurants and retailing where supervisory duties are mixed with directly dealing with customers.

Filing a lawsuit has always been an option under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but with the Wage and Hour Division’s failure to keep up with complaints, it is increasingly likely that civil lawsuits will become preferable to waiting months for an investigation.

A successful lawsuit for back wages can run into $100,000's or more, as employers who lose in court will have to immediately pay both back wages and attorney fees for both sides, not to mention any appeals process.

In comparison, normally the Labor Department is satisfied to see back wages paid, sometimes setting up a payment plan where employers can pay in installments until their obligations are met.

With a potential avalanche of lawsuits facing Georgia companies, many of which are small and medium size employers without in-house legal staff, companies may learn that an administrative investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor is preferable to spending hundreds of hours in court and spending thousands of dollars defending their positions.

If you are one of the 89,766 employees or former employees who thinks you may be owed back wages collected by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, you can search their database at by the employer's name and submit a claim.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Workers protest outside of Federal Labor Department offices in Atlanta

The Southeast regional offices of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics were picketed on Wednesday by 81 employees who work for Office Resources Inc. (ORI), a contractor at the Atlanta offices of BLS.

The group was joined by Charlie Flemming, president of the Georgia AFL-CIO.

An online video of the protest is available here.

The ORI workers are fighting for their first union contract after joining the International Association of Machinists last year.

BLS contracts out part of its collection activities including telephone collection for their Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey that produces national employment information.

The BLS Southeast Region handles data collection for a number of statistical surveys, including the Consumer Price Index, most of which are collected by federal employees led by long-time Regional Commissioner Janet Rankin.

While BLS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, it has traditionally kept its distance from other USDOL agencies and tried to avoid controversial and political issues.

The agency describes itself as “the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.”

The BLS mission “is to collect, analyze, and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making. As an independent statistical agency, BLS serves its diverse user communities by providing products and services that are objective, timely, accurate, and relevant.”

The BLS Director for Public Affairs was unavailable for comment.