AT&T has recently come under fire for allegedly failing to pay certain employees for overtime as is required by federal law.
In a Georgia lawsuit filed last month, AT&T employees claimed that the company broke the law by classifying first-level managers as exempt from overtime pay. Such lawsuits have increased in Georgia and around the country due to a change in federal regulations as well as a struggling economy.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story.
Overtime pay is codified in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The main issue in the majority of overtime lawsuits is how a company classifies its workers. Generally, whether an employee must receive overtime hinges on their job functions and whether their job is exempt. Employees who work in an administrative, executive or professional function are generally exempt. Computer workers, those in outside sales, or workers who are highly compensated are also generally exempt. Each category also has its own requirements for exemption to apply.
Among the grayer areas of this law is how to classify managers. For an executive exemption to apply, the employer must show that an employee’s principal role is to manage a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the business. The company must also show that the employee manages at least two full-time employees and be able to weigh in on the hiring or promotion of lower level employees.
In the Georgia AT&T case, plaintiffs argued that AT&T classified first-level managers as exempt even though their jobs largely involved non-managerial duties.
The Georgia AT&T case is part of a recent trend of overtime lawsuits against major corporations. In 2004, the Department of Labor adjusted regulations which caused some workers who were previously exempt to become misclassified. This factor combined with a poor economy has sparked an increase in the number of overtime lawsuits which experts predict will continue to grow.
Our attorneys have successfully handled cases in which employees were wrongfully denied overtime pay. As this article suggests, the FLSA is an incredibly complex and intricate law. However, it is also a very worker-friendly law. The law allows an employee two years to bring a suit against his or her employer for violating overtime laws. This time period is extended to three years for willful violations. Furthermore, successful plaintiffs can recover significant monetary damages including back pay, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs.