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If You Complain To Your Employer About Overtime Pay Violations, Are You Protected From Retaliation?

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides certain basic rights to almost all workers in the United States. You are entitled to earn minimum wage and all non-exempt workers must be paid overtime wages at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of forty hours in any work week.

If you have questions about your pay, or feel like you have not been paid all the compensation you deserve, it’s important to consult with an experienced Georgia wage and hour attorney right away. A knowledgeable Atlanta FLSA lawyer can provide you critical advice to ensure you are getting all the pay you should.

What happens if you think your employer is violating the law and you complain to them? Many people believe that if they complain, they might be fired. The good news is that because the government so firmly believes that workers must be paid minimum wages and overtime wages it included “anti-retaliation” provisions in many federal labor laws, including the FLSA. This means that if your employer takes negative actions against you (like firing, failing to promote you or transferring you to a worse location or giving you worse hours), you may be able to file a claim against them. This is true even if it turns out your employer isn’t violating the FLSA – if they take negative actions against you for complaining they may be held responsible and be required to pay you damages.

What does it mean to complain?

This question has gotten a lot of attention around the country lately. In many courts, making an oral complaint may be enough. This means if you tell your employer that you don’t believe that you are getting paid what you deserve under the FLSA or otherwise give your employer “fair notice” that you’re asserting your rights under federal labor law, then you may be able to file a claim for retaliation if your employer takes any negative action against you. The majority of jurisdictions also accept an internal written complaint. This means if you submit a written complaint to your supervisor or employer describing what you think they are doing wrong, this is enough to “assert your rights” under the FLSA and protect you from retaliation.

The 2d Circuit, which includes New York, remains the only circuit where a worker has to file an external complaint. This means those workers must take the burdensome step of contacting the Department of Labor or otherwise submit a complaint to an outside agency to be protected from retaliation. A case before the New York Court of Appeals – Greathouse v. JHS Security – is getting a lot of national attention as worker’s rights advocates are weighing in on whether this provision should be changed. As Georgia wage and hour attorneys dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, we will be following this case closely.

For more information or if you believe that you have not been paid all the wages you deserve, please contact the dedicated Atlanta fair pay attorneys at Buckley Beal LLP for an immediate consultation.

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