Every year billions of dollars of U.S. government funds are paid to businesses and healthcare companies who file false and fraudulent claims for payment to the United States government and various state governments. Detection, investigation and prosecution of this fraud is often impossible without the help of whistleblowers.
The False Claims Act authorizes whistleblowers to sue companies and individuals that defraud the government (known as a “Qui Tam” lawsuit). These suits are filed under seal in federal court and investigated by the Department of Justice. In return, a whistleblower is rewarded by the government with a significant portion of any recovered funds. In a successful suit, the whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s overall recovery.
If you have information regarding fraud on the government, and may have a qui tam case under the False Claims Act, you could be rewarded for reporting it. Call now for a consultation at (877) 417-8324.Wage and Hour
Employers are required to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is a federal law that sets rules like the minimum wage and overtime provisions. The law requires that employers pay at least minimum wage and pay employees for the time that they work. Some workers are considered “exempt” from wage and hour laws because of the structure of their employment or the kind of job that they have. The outcome of litigation thus often hinges on whether a worker is exempt or non-exempt. Most principles in this area of the law come from federal law, although some aspects are determined or modified by state law. A knowledgeable wage and hour attorney at our Atlanta firm will make sure to investigate all of the legal theories that may apply to your situation and bring all of the appropriate claims against a defendant.
The FLSA also requires employers to pay overtime when employees work over 40 hours in a week. Overtime is required to be one-and-a-half times the normal rate of pay. One of the ways that employers commonly violate the rights of their employees is by not properly paying overtime. Some employers violate this law by requiring employees to work extra hours without paying them at all, or by paying the typical wage rather than the appropriate time-and-a-half-rate.
However, there are many exceptions to these overtime laws. An experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney can help you figure out whether you are covered by these laws or not. If you are entitled to unpaid overtime, you can hold your employer accountable for these FLSA violations.Rest Breaks and On-Call Pay
Another way that employers commonly violate the FLSA is by not paying employees for some of the hours that they work. If you are working, your employer needs to pay you for those hours. For example, if you are working during your “unpaid” lunch period, you should be paid for those hours. If you need to prepare your work area or clean up after your shift, that time should be paid. Now that technology has come such a long way, many employees are expected or asked to work from home. Once again, unless you are an exempt employee, you should be paid for this time. This can even apply to some on-call situations if there are things that you need to do while you are on-call, although the line is often blurry in these cases. It might not seem like a big deal to work off the clock a little bit here and there, but it can add up to thousands are dollars that you are owed. An experienced wage and hour lawyer can help Atlanta residents fight for every dollar that they are due.Travel Time Pay
The FLSA also requires employers to pay employees for certain kinds of travel time. If you need to travel during work hours, travel time should be paid. For example, if you have a training across town in the middle of the day, you should be paid for travel time, assuming that you are going back to work after it is over. Paid travel time should be distinguished from commute time, which is the time that it takes you to go from your home to your workplace.
If you need to travel away from home for work, you should be paid for any travel time during your regular working hours. However, if the travel itself is outside your usual working hours, and you are a passenger and not specifically doing work during this time, it does not need to be paid. For example, if you usually work from 9 to 5 and are required to go out of town for work, for which you book a flight, the timing of the flight will determine whether you are paid or not. If you fly from 10 am to 2 pm, that time will be paid. If your flight home is from 6 pm to 10 pm, and you do not work on the flight, your employer is not required to pay you for this time.
An exception is if the employee is required to drive themselves. In that case, they should be paid for all of their driving time, no matter when it occurs. Whether travel time is required to be paid or not by your employer can be confusing, but a knowledgeable Atlanta wage and hour lawyer can help you make sure that you are being paid for your travel time if you should be.Minimum Wages
The FLSA sets the current minimum wage at $7.25 per hour for most workers. This also includes domestic service workers, day workers, housekeepers, cooks, chauffeurs, and full-time babysitters in most circumstances. Certain industries have their own standards, though. For example, tipped workers who make over $30 per month in tips are required to be paid at least $2.13 an hour in direct wages. However, the tips plus direct wages must add up to at least the general minimum wage per hour.
There are also a few specific exceptions to minimum wage law outside exempt positions, such as vocational programs or sheltered workshops for disabled workers. However, these exceptions require a certification from the Wage and Hour Department of the United States Division of Labor. You should not assume that one of these exceptions applies to your situation without consulting an attorney first.Misclassifications
A common way that employers try to get around these laws is by misclassifying employees. The laws described above apply to employees but not independent contractors. Whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee determines who pays certain taxes and other aspects of each party’s rights and responsibilities. Also, many employers try to classify employees as exempt from overtime, even though they have a right to overtime wages under the FLSA. There can be consequences for both employers and employees who violate the rules surrounding classifications. If you have any concerns at all, you should ask us to investigate and clarify your situation.Contact an Experienced Wage and Hour Attorney in Atlanta Today
Employees have rights! If you think that the law is being violated, or you are uncertain about the validity of some of the conditions of your employment, you should contact an employment attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Brandon A. Thomas regularly works with both English- and Spanish-speaking clients. Call us today at (678) 862-9344 or use the form on our website to schedule your free, confidential consultation. Mr. Thomas represents clients in Atlanta and other areas of Georgia.
Atlanta Overtime Lawyer | Fulton County Employment Attorney | Brandon A. Thomas
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