However, not every state has a minimum wage. In fact, in Alabama and four other states (Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee), if an employee isn’t covered under the federal minimum wage, employers can legally pay that worker as little as $1.00 per hour. That’s assuming, of course, that a company could find an employer willing to work for so little. This is because those states have no minimum wage law.
Because of this recent increase, Georgia employers and employers across the country must update their labor law posters. The law requires that whenever a change is made in any labor law, state of federal, companies must display the updates posters in a place where all employees have easy access. Failure to display these posters can result in fines and penalties.
However, even in those states, employees who are eligible for the federal minimum wage must be paid $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum recently increased by 70 cents from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour as part of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. That Act provided 3 increases in the federal minimum wage over three years. These 70 cent increases took place on July 24 in 2007, in 2008 and in 2009.
Federal minimum wages are set by the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938). The FLSA applies to all businesses with at least $500,000 in annual revenue and to employers engaged in interstate commerce. FLSA can also apply to individual (more…)
The accused 43-year-old man is a Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy. His 42-year-old wife and 72-year old father have all been charged by a federal grand jury. The charges include human trafficking, witness tampering, making false statements and harboring an alien, according to US Attorney David Nahmias.
Prosecutors contend that the Georgia couple hired a nanny from India in early 2003. Once the woman was in this country, they stopped paying her and threatened to lock her up if she quit working for them. They held her for 18 months. The woman, alone and unable to contact friends and family in India, apparently believed the couple because of the man’s position as a Deputy and his father’s status as a former judge.
An aerospace defense contractor based in Broomfield, Colorado was ordered to pay almost $1 million in back wages to 904 employees in four states plus the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Department of Labor charges that Ball Aerospace and Technologies, Inc. failed to pay $976,327 in overtime to employees in Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Georgia and Washington D.C.
According to sources, an investigation showed that once senior technicians reached the maximum hourly rate, they were arbitrarily and unlawfully changed to salaried-exempt status. The change in pay rate did not include a significant increase in responsibilities. Under federal law, in order to be exempt from overtime pay, employees must have decision-making powers, significant administrative duties or they must supervise three or more people. None of those conditions were met for the 111 technicians in question, so they are due $383, 235 in unpaid overtime.
In addition, all employees were routinely required to work through their lunch periods without any pay. Even if they were not able to take a lunch break, an hour was deducted from their time cards every work day. This violation resulted in payments of $593,092 to 793 employees.
Ball agreed to keep more accurate payroll records in the future, in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA, and to pay all required wages to employees in the future.
In late July, the U.S. Department of Labor forced Desert Plastering, Inc., a Las Vegas Nevada firm, to pay nearly $1.2 million in back pay to 1060 employees. The feds found that Desert Plastering had not paid required overtime to lathers, finishers, plasterers and estimators who worked up to 58 hours per week.
In early July, the U.S. Department of Labor forced 107 subcontractors of KBR, Inc. of Virginia to pay some $1.5 million in back wages and benefits for up to 2,600 workers who participated in the Hurricane Katrina recovery project. The construction workers were involved in repairs to the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport Mississippi or the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. The U.S. Department of Labor is still searching for some of the workers involved in that case. Anyone who believes that they are owed back wages for these projects can contact the nearest U.S. Department of Labor office. The average payment per worker in that case was $616.
Earlier this year, under a voluntary agreement to prevent a federal suit, Wal-Mart, Inc. agreed to pay $33 million in unpaid overtime wages to 86,680 employees throughout the nation. An internal audit revealed that the company had incorrectly classified some employees as “salary-exempt” when in fact they were entitled to overtime pay. In other cases, the company admitted that it had based overtime pay on the employee’s base hourly rate, not including incentives and bonuses in the employee’s average rate as required by law.
The Fair Labor Standard Act requires that most U.S. employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $5.85 per hour. The FLSA also mandates that employees must be paid 1.5 times their usual hourly rate for each hour over 40 in a single work week.
Many employers mistakenly believe that any worker paid by salary is exempt from overtime. The FLSA does provide a number of exemptions to the overtime law for bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales jobs. In general, employees must meet job duty and salary tests, to be exempt from overtime.
The U. S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division collected more than $171 in back wages for some 246,000 employees in 2006. Thos wages were a result of 31,987 “compliance actions” in 2006.
A tree-trimming company broke the law when it failed to pay minimum wage to more than 2,500 employees. The company, ABC Professional Tree Services of Houston, Georgia, has been ordered to pay $1.8 million in back wages. Some of its workers participated in cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, and they are among the employees sharing the back pay settlement.
The firm violated the Georgia minimum wage and federal minimum wage laws, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which conducted the investigation. The probe began after a tip from an employee led to the discovering that the firm was violating the minimum wage law in 16 states. It was also violating the FLSA, or federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The company must pay back wages to its Georgia employees, plus workers from Maryland, Virginia, Cincinnati, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The firm cleans up around power lines and after natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
Employees, according to FLSA rules, must be paid the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour for the first 40 hours, then time-and-a-half for overtime after that. Employers must also keep time and payroll records that are accurate.
The investigation grows out of a joint effort of the Labor Department and U.S. Attorneys from several states. They teamed up in 2006 to investigate violations of labor laws in the Gulf Coast area, and follow up those investigations with prosecutions. They are aimed at crimes of employers in hurricane regions – such as those including Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina.
“We are pleased,” said Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, “that we were able to help these workers get the back pay they deserve.” She said the department would continue its push “to ensure that employers are paying workers properly.”
The investigation resulting in the charges against ABC Professional Tree Services covered the period from August of 2004 to August of 2006.
What are the terms of this settlement?
Wal-Mart has agreed to pay almost 87,000 employees in Georgia and around the nation $33 million in back pay and interest.
Why are these employees receiving this money?
Certain salaried employees, such as programmer trainees, interns, and manager trainees received low wages and worked long hours. Federal law stipulates that even though employees are salaried, they still may qualify for overtime. According to the US Department of Labor, these Wal-Mart employees were actually “non-exempt salaried” and therefore qualified for overtime. In this case, manager trainees worked long hours for low pay even though they had no authority to make decisions nor did they oversee any employees.
What determines if a salaried employee qualifies for overtime?
New guidelines require that overtime be paid to employees who earn less than $23,660 a year ($455 a week). Some of the Wal-Mart employees earned much less than this. Moreover, employees can earn more than $23,660 per year and still qualify for overtime pay if they do not have the authority to make decisions that impact a store, division, or department. In most cases, this decision-making power includes the authority to hire and fire in excess of 3 employees.
Does this agreement impact other litigation against Wal-Mart?
No. Only those specific violations outlined in the judgment are resolved by this agreement. Other litigation is not impacted. In addition, workers can still file complaints with the US Labor Department.
Have other companies tried to avoid paying overtime wages?
Yes. Howard Johnson’s, a giant in the hospitality industry, used a similar tactic in the early 1980s. Employees in the restaurants were hired as “assistant managers” and then would bus tables, wait on customers, and wash dishes for 80 or even more hours each week. Howard Johnson’s was found guilty.