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The federal minimum wage was raised to $7.25 per hour in 2009. This law applies to any business that participates in interstate commerce and to employers with a certain minimum number of employees.
In addition to the federal minimum wage, each state also has its own minimum wage laws. In Georgia, the minimum wage is $5.15. Not all employers are subject to the FLSA. An employer who is not governed by the FLSA can pay the lower state minimum wage.
In most states, the federal minimum wage applies regardless of the state minimum wage. However, some states have created their own minimum wage standards that are higher than the federal minimum wage. In these states, the employer must pay the higher, state-mandated minimum wage.The FLSA Protects Employees
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), initially passed in 1938, is the federal law that governs wage and hour requirements. The FLSA is a complex federal law that is sometimes difficult for employers to navigate or understand. Failure to comply with the FLSA and to pay an employee minimum wage leaves an employer vulnerable to a lawsuit. Some employers knowingly attempt to underpay their employees in an effort to save money, even though this underpayment is illegal under the FLSA. Other employers simply do not understand the law and make a good faith mistake in calculating hours or paying wages.
To avoid an employment lawsuit, contact Parks, Chesin & Walbert to discuss your claim. If you are an employer seeking insight into the FLSA's requirements, Parks, Chesin & Walbert can evaluate your current payment policy and alert you to any problems that need attention.Exceptions to Minimum Wage Requirements
Georgia law sets a separate service industry minimum wage for employees who earn gratuities, such as bartenders and waiters. This minimum wage is $2.13; the tips the employee earns make up any difference between the employee's wage and the state or federal minimum wage. Although Georgia employers are encouraged to pay tipped staff the state minimum wage, they are not legally obligated to do so. However, if a tipped employee does not end up earning an hourly wage equivalent to the federal minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. Exceptions to minimum wage requirements sometimes apply to students and teenagers as well.
Under the Georgia Code, minimum wage laws apply to all workers in Georgia. There are some exceptions to this requirement, however. Employers who have less than $40,000 in sales per year or who have fewer than five employees are not held to Georgia's minimum wage standards. Farm owners are also not required to pay minimum wage. In addition, if a job provides room and board without cost to the employee, the employer may not be required to pay minimum wage.To Protect Your Interests, Contact a Lawyer
Employers must pay employees the amount to which they are legally entitled. If you have questions about your obligations, contact an attorney. If you have been underpaying your employees, you may be required to pay the difference plus punitive damages.
Because the stakes for a wage and hour violation are high, it is wise to be proactive in ensuring that your organization complies with the law. Contact Parks, Chesin & Walbert to help ensure you are paying your employees adequately.
If you are an employee who believes you have been underpaid, call us at 404-873-8048. Parks, Chesin & Walbert can investigate your situation. We can determine if you have been wrongly classified or if your employer's payment practices are inappropriate. If we find that you have been paid less than the minimum wage your employer was required to pay under the law, we will fight hard to ensure you receive all the compensation to which you are entitled.