Employment Law -- Employee
Georgia Employment Law
Perhaps your hours were cut short with no adjustment to your salary. Maybe your employer wouldn’t cover your expenses for traveling from their Atlanta office to a client’s Marietta warehouse. Employers who do these things and other unfair practices against employees can be held accountable to Georgia’s employment laws.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker’s compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Georgia employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Common Georgia Employment Law Issues
A common employment law issue in Georgia is when an employer misclassifies their employees. There are two major types of workers: employees and independent contractors. An employee who is misclassified as an independent contractor could be forced to pay taxes that the employer should pay, or may not qualify for certain protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act or other laws.
There are several defining factors differentiating employees from independent contractors outlined by the Internal Revenue Service and the Georgia Department of Labor, including:
- Instruction — An employee receives extensive instructions on how to complete a job and how the minutiae involved is handled. An independent contractor doesn’t typically receive extensive instructions from an employer.
- Training — An employee typically receives training for their job from the employer. An independent contractor is self-trained.
- Investment — An employee doesn’t possess a significant financial investment in their work. An independent contractor may hold a significant financial investment in their work, though, in terms of equipment, manpower or business reputation.
- Expenses — An employee is typically reimbursed by their employer for any business-related expenses. Independent contractors aren’t typically reimbursed for their expenses.
- Contract — A written contract can determine a worker’s relationship with an employer. However, at-will employees may not be hired using a written contract.
Georgia Minimum Wage
As of January 2017, Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, so most Georgia employers are required to pay the federal minimum wage. Clarkston is the only Georgia city that has increased its minimum wage to $15 for city workers.
Georgia’s Non-Compete Law
Employees with specialized skills in their job field may face tough legal obstacles when trying to find new work. Employers have a right to protect their intellectual property if a former employee goes to work for a competitor. To prevent a conflict of interest, an employee may be required to sign a non-compete agreement.
A non-compete agreement restricts an employee from finding work with the employer’s competitors for a specific time limit and, sometimes, in specific locations. In 2010, Georgia revised its non-compete laws in the Restrictive Covenant Statute (see O.C.G.A. § 13-8-53) with more employer-friendly provisions, including:
- Employees may be reasonably restricted from working for a competitor for up to two years after leaving their last employer.
- If an agreement was voided in part, the remaining un-voided part may still be enforceable.
- Agreements that don’t expressly restrict a former employee from seeking work within a geographic area are still enforceable.
Despite these changes, employees were given a few new rights. For example, if a former employee held a low-ranking position without specialized skills or access to crucial business resources, they may be exempt from certain provisions of Georgia’s non-compete laws.
Get Help from a Georgia Employment Attorney
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it’s in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Georgia employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.