The United States has federal laws to protect employees from being paid wages below a certain amount. These laws set a federal minimum wage, which is an hourly amount that all non-exempt employees must be paid for their work. States and localities may also set their own minimum wages. The minimum wage that you are entitled to receive will depend on your industry and position, as well as whether the position is tipped or not. There are different state and federal laws that apply, and it can be complicated to figure out which laws may apply to you. If you are suspicious that you may not be getting what the law mandates, whether this involves minimum wage or overtime rules, you should contact a knowledgeable Atlanta wage and hour attorney as soon as possible.Federal and State Minimum Wage Laws
The federal minimum wage in 2018 is $7.25 per hour for most employees. Georgia state law sets the minimum wage for non-tipped workers at $5.15. Whenever there is a conflict between federal and state laws, however, federal laws apply. Since the vast majority of workers to whom the minimum wage applies are covered by federal law, it is rare for the lower state amount to apply. Therefore, for most non-tipped workers, the applicable minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25.
Georgia has one of the lowest minimum wage rates in the country. As explained above, most workers can rely on federal minimum wage laws, but not all of them. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law that governs these matters, does not cover all workers.Federal Exemptions
Workers not covered by the FLSA will usually be governed by state law. The FLSA requires employers that engage in “interstate commerce” to pay their employees the federal minimum wage. “Interstate commerce” is interpreted broadly and includes most workplaces. It specifically includes businesses with $500,000 a year or more in sales, as well as businesses that use telephones or mail to communicate to people in other states. It also includes schools and hospitals.
The FLSA does not apply to most employees in salaried and white collar positions (executives, administrative workers, professionals, and outside sales), but generally these positions are paid significantly more than the minimum wage, so these laws would not be relevant. Also exempt from the FLSA are many seasonal positions, farmworkers, occasional babysitters or elderly companions, independent contractors, many transportation workers, and a few other categories.
The details of who is and who is not covered are too specific to be covered in their entirety here. If you have questions, you should contact a knowledgeable Georgia attorney to help you figure out which categories apply to your employer and your position.State Exemptions
Georgia’s minimum wage laws also lay out specific rules about who is and is not covered. Once again, federal laws will apply unless there is an exemption for your employer or position. If the FLSA does not govern, the lower state rate will. If your employer or position is not covered by federal or state law, employers are able to pay what they want, subject to any other applicable laws.
Georgia law exempts employers with five employees or fewer and employers with sales of $40,000 a year or less. It also exempts domestic employees, farm employees, high school and college students, newspaper carriers, live-in caregivers who make at least $10,000 a year not including room and board, and tipped workers.Tipped Workers
Minimum wage law also applies to tipped workers, but it works a little differently. Tipped workers who are subject to the FLSA should be paid at least $2.13 an hour by their employers. This rate must be paid no matter how many tips an employee receives. However, if the combined tips and wages do not average out to at least the minimum federal rate of $7.25 an hour, employers must make up the difference.Hire an Atlanta Lawyer for Your Wage and Hour Claim
Minimum wage laws are in place to protect workers from exploitation. If you are not being paid in accordance with these rules, you should contact a knowledgeable Atlanta attorney today. Contact the Law Offices of Brandon A. Thomas at (678) 330-2909 or use the form on this website to schedule your free, confidential consultation in Spanish or English. Mr. Thomas also represents clients in other wage and hour disputes, such as those involving travel time wages.