Question

Are Georgia Employers Required To Pay Overtime?

Michael Caldwell - Employment & Labor - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Michael Caldwell

DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC
Atlanta, GA

Fax: 404-979-3154

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Answer

Workers who go the extra mile for their employers should receive full compensation for the hours they work. This includes any overtime pay they are entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

There is a lot of confusion surrounding which employers must pay overtime wages and which workers are eligible. Generally, employees in Georgia are eligible for overtime pay of 1.5 times their base rate of pay when they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. The only exceptions are if the employee is an exempt worker or if the employer is exempt from FLSA regulations. 

Which Workers Can Receive Overtime Pay Under The Fair Labor Standards Act?

Georgia adheres to the federal overtime regulations that are outlined within the FLSA. These rules dictate that nonexempt workers must receive at least 1.5 times their base rate of pay for any work done in excess of 40 hours in a single week. The FLSA does not require overtime pay for weekends or holidays, unless the time worked exceeds the 40-hour threshold. 

The key distinction when determining whether a worker can receive overtime pay hinges on whether they are exempt or nonexempt. There are three primary exemptions that, based on the employee’s job function, make them ineligible for overtime pay. 

These exemptions are: 

  • Professional employees: Professional employees have job functions that require higher levels of education. Often, this includes individuals with a master’s or doctoral degree. They must also regularly make independent choices and have discretion in making decisions based on their essential job functions. Doctors, lawyers and scientists frequently fall into the professional employee category.
  • Executive employees: Executive employees must head up a company, a recognized division or a subdivision within a company. They must also supervise two or more full-time employees. Supervision includes assigning work, evaluations, discipline authority and hiring/firing decisions.
  • Administrative employees: Administrative employees are staff workers with specialized job functions. Administrative employees regularly exercise independent judgment and have discretion when fulfilling their essential job duties. 

It is important to note that, when determining whether a worker falls into one of these categories, it is not based on the job title. Rather, it is based on how much they are paid (they must receive at least $455 a week as a “genuine salary”) and what their principal job functions are. 

Which Employers Must Pay Overtime?

Federal law requires any employers with at least $500,000 in gross business must pay eligible workers overtime pay. For smaller businesses that have less than $500,000 in gross sales, they must still pay overtime wages if they conduct interstate commerce as part of their business. 

When speaking with employers about overtime issues, I recommend they pay overtime if they have any uncertainty about whether a worker is or is not eligible. It is only after confirming with a wage and hour attorney that a particular worker is exempt should an employer withhold overtime pay. 

What Can Workers Do To Strengthen Their Claim?

If you have worked over 40 hours in a week, and you believe that you are a nonexempt worker, you may be able to pursue legal action against your employer. To help establish a stronger case, employees who are pursuing an unpaid overtime claim should take the following steps: 

  • Keep track of the actual beginning and ending times that you work every day
  • Keep all of your pay stubs
  • Confirm with your employer that they know the actual hours you are working 

It is a good idea to speak with an attorney who understands federal overtime regulations to help you determine whether you have a claim. If an employer is underpaying you, they may be forced to pay you for all of the overtime you worked, up to double the amount you are owed. They will also be obligated to repay your legal fees.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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