The Most Common Way Your Employer Avoid Paying Overtime

Americans are known as a very hardworking nation. Many people put in a ton of overtime at work, sacrificing the time they could spend with family or on their hobbies and fun activities and come home dog-tired for days or weeks. What is reassuring is that you will get that huge overtime income.

Then when you receive your check, it’s suspiciously light.

This is not as uncommon as you would certainly think. One sly way firms avoid paying overtime is by misclassifying staff members as exempt.

Who Is Exempt from Overtime Pay?

There are 2 types of employee categories: exempt and non-exempt.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay non-exempt staff members at least the minimum wage, plus time and a half for all hours worked over 40 in a week.

However some categories of employees, those that are classified as exempt, don’t receive time-and-a-half regardless of how many hours they work. Exempt staff members may include:


Despite the name, you do not have to be at the top of your firm’s management to get the executive exemption.

The bare minimum qualification is making at least $455 a week on a wage basis, leading a division or department, supervising a group of at the very least 2 people, as well as having the authority to hire and fire.

While this summary includes C-level executives, it might additionally describe lower-level managers and supervisors, depending on your business as well as duties.

Administrative Workers

Management employees that are exempt should also make at least $455 a week on a wage or salary basis. Their major work responsibilities might include administrative office management, along with the exercise of discretion and also independent judgment relative to matters of significance. Taking into account the broadness of this description, companies are set loose when determining who is exempt and who isn’t.

Learned or Creative Professionals

There are 2 types of professional exemptions: “Learned professional” and “creative professional”.

Learned professionals rely on sophisticated knowledge in an area (such as scientific research) acquired throughout a duration of long term study to do their task. Creative professionals carry out duties including creativity and initial creation in an acknowledged imaginative field.

Both of these need to make at least $455 each week on salary to be considered exempt.

Computer Employees

There’s a lengthy checklist of the specific tasks as well as task titles appropriate to employees under this classification, but the idea is that if you work with computer systems, hardware or code all day, you most likely fall under this heading.

This is one of the few categories that can be either per hour or wage to be considered exempt. If  you have a fixed salary, you have to make a minimum of $455 a week to qualify. If you have an hourly rate, you must be paid at least $27.63 per hour.

Outside Salespeople

To be considered an “outside salesperson”, your primary responsibilities must consist of selling products, services or agreements — off your company’s location. If you spend a lot of time on the road making sales, you’re most likely an outside salesperson.

What to Do if You Think You’re Being Misclassified

When it comes to classifying who is or isn’t exempt, your work obligations matter more than your title. So if your title includes “outside sales” yet you hardly ever leave your office, you might have a misclassification trouble.

It’s illegal to fire a person for bringing this error up, so it’s OK to go after the discussion with your HR manager.

If it’s clear to you that your employer is misclassifying you and also isn’t intending to deal with the issue or reimburse you, you might need to seek legal help. The Chattanooga employment law attorneys of McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC,  have decades of experience representing public and private sector employees throughout Tennessee. Our employment law attorneys in Chattanooga handle state and federal court litigation, including trials, appeals, mediations, arbitrations, and settlements. Contact us today if you have any questions regarding the employment law. 

Signs Of Retaliation In The Workplace

It cannot but please that working Americans across the country become more legally aware of their rights as employees. The cases of harassment or discrimination at work are well-known and typically found by the courts in favor of the plaintiffs. However, many still don’t know what is retaliation and don’t even realize they can fight back with the help of employment attorney. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens that the employer or manager harasses another employee not only basing on his/her origin and religion, but uses intimidation and humiliation. Here are the signs of retaliation in the workplace.

1. You’re Excluded or Left Out

Unfortunately, the silent treatment does not constantly stop after grade school. Actually, it’s one of the methods colleagues could exclude you from conversations connected to work. And if you observe that your co-workers are in a meeting and you’re still sitting at your workdesk, that’s another sign they’re leaving you out.

2. You’re Reassigned to a Different Shift or Department

An additional retaliation tactic is to relocate a staff member to a various division or switch their shift. Did you start from the advertising division developing exciting campaigns, and now find yourself stuck pulling reception duties?

Or perhaps you work at a telephone call center on the day change. All of a sudden your supervisor switches you to the 3rd shift after filing complaint. These scenarios make your life harder– a usual objective of office retaliation.

3. You Were Denied a Promotion or Raise

You’ve got an excellent feedback from your manager and applied for an internal promotion. A division you would certainly be working in has almost guaranteed you the job.

In the meantime, you have a conflict with one of the employees and submit a complaint with human resources. You believe there were a misconduct from his/her side – for instance, sexist remarks or rude behavior towards you. But this person happens to be a good friend of someone in a new division.

Next thing you find out, a younger employee with a lot less experience was promoted, and nobody will certainly tell you for what reason. Your supervisor fives you the cold shoulder when you try to clear things up and no one from the the other division is addressing your emails. Seems like retaliation for filing that complaint.

4. Your Salary or Hours are Cut

You work and perform your duties as usually but suddenly find out that your position with the company is at risk and the only way to save your job is to take a salary cut. Companies, especially small ones, often face financial difficulties and deduction of wages is a common instrument to stabilize the situation. However, this also may be a sign of retaliation.

But after a talk with the co-workers it seems strange that no one else in your department needed to take a cut in their pay. And it’s even stranger when a co-worker you just finished a project with received a bonus.

Another retaliation strategy is to considerably minimize your hours. If you typically work 30 hours a week but after some time realize that these amount dropped to 25 or even less without own initiative, think about it. Taking away your opportunity to work is as bad as reducing your pay, yet it’s much less noticeable.

5. You’re Fired from Your Job

This one is quite obvious. Let’s imagine you file a claim due to the fact that your employer isn’t really paying males and females the very same salary although they’re doing the same job. Next thing you know, you’re out of a work.

Though there are many reasons to be fired,  federal laws protect employees’ rights in such situations. For example, employers must not demote or fire a worker for taking qualifying or pregnancy leave.

Ending your employment with the company is just one of the most extreme retaliation tactics, however it takes place. And if that termination is a result of your complaint, it’s retaliation. State and federal law also prohibit retaliation against employees who assist in any harassment or discrimination investigations and any civil suits related to an investigation, as well as retaliation against employees who report any illegal activities of the employer to a government agency (also known as whistleblowers) or file claims.

A Chattanooga Employment Law Attorney Can Help Your

If you have noticed any of these signs of retaliation in the workplace, it’s time to protect your rights. The Chattanooga employment law attorneys of McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC,  have decades of experience representing public and private sector employees throughout Tennessee. Our employment law attorneys in Chattanooga handle state and federal court litigation, including trials, appeals, mediations, arbitrations, and settlements.


Your Rights When Employer Is Facing Bankruptcy

New staff members dealing with a firm going bankrupt should understand just what rights, if any, they have once the business fails. This means  contacting Chattanooga employment law attorneys and asking them for advice and details.

Some companies work with new staff members without knowing that bankruptcy impends. Some companies hide this information from management, workers as well as agencies. As a result, there are hundreds and more individuals each year that go through businesses closing their doors as well as the workers being laid off because of an absence of job. Occasionally, those working for the firm are unable to acquire their salary. If the individual was hired recently through an agency, he or she may still be guaranteed a paycheck. However, direct hires could not be paid if there are no funds available.

When an employee will be dismissed as a result of the bankruptcy of the business, it is very important for him or her to know as well as understand which type of bankruptcy is being filed. This might identify if employees are to be paid, if any advantages could still be obtained and also if various other actions need to be taken. A Chapter 7 is a liquidation where all properties are sold promptly for cash to settle financial debts and other concerns. A Chapter 11 is to rearrange the business and common procedures typically are retained along with a lot of employees. The excess debts, operation costs and similar items are paid off and afterwards it is reorganized.

Type of Bankruptcy

The type of bankruptcy that the employer files is essential to determining if the business will move on after the first adjustments or whether the entire company will be liquidated. With a Chapter 7, the owner or partners of business may have incurred so many debts that the only way  to manage the problem is to sell off everything including the firing of all workers. This likewise suggests that established relationships may be severed if the owner is unable to recover by creating a newer however smaller company. All clients would be cut off from the service or product, and new employees may be rejected payment if there are not assets to move funds to their accounts.

When it comes to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, this means that the business might get through the problem. This is typically just a reorganization or a restructuring of the business to eliminate as many ruptures of income and profits as possible. If an entire department is not making any kind of development or can not improve the financial situation, it may be cut with all people losing their jobs. This may also imply that the newest employees are let go, yet this might rely on other factors. Most of the  excess debts are handled with reorganization along with reduced operating and transactional costs. It would be wise for any company in such situation to work together with a professional attorney who is experienced both in bankruptcy, business and employment law. At Mckoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC, we have attorneys working together in different practice areas. This way, a business owner will not need to look for several separate attorneys. It’s much more practical to handle the case to one law firm which will understand all the aspects of your business.

What To Expect?

When the employee is affected by bankruptcy through a Chapter 7 filing, he or she becomes unemployed. If there is no money to pay to workers, it is almost impossible to seek payment unless the owner opens a new firm after bankruptcy has been completed. It is important to look for the guidance and options offered by a business lawyer versed in bankruptcy cases. Attorneys from Mckoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC understand what this means and also if there are any kind of choices open up to the staff member for sensible payment. Wage staff members as well as others that have pensions or retirement plans in effect already are given a higher priority for payment.

Depending on the bankruptcy chapter, the worker may have different rights. Nevertheless, there are certain regulations that oblige the company to offer up to 60 days’ notice of impending layoffs. Sadly, there are exceptions to this. Under Chapter 11, wages may still be available for those who remain at work and keep up with their daily responsibilities. In other case, there may be some time prior to any funds are received if it is possible. It might be needed to get in touch with a legal representative to identify exactly what to do next, and also if the company is attempting to escape paying those who money is owed to, litigation could be needed.

Which Restrictions Are Legal In Employment Agreements?

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The law obliges all types of businesses and companies to conclude an agreement with their employees to secure both sides. Employment agreements also ensures that certain guidelines and rules remain in place, and the business also could impose limitations on employment that could cause fines for certain behavior. Meanwhile, the business should follow both state and labor laws as well as  federal wage and labor standards.

Protecting the intellectual property and confidential information within the company is essential for its operating. It is possible to enforce limitations that are practical and also ideal for the sort of information that employees will have to deal with during the working process. By developing as well as applying limiting contracts, the employer could offer a base of valid yet legit and secure activity both in and out the working space. This is possible through specific methods and legal responsibilities in agreements with workers such as the nondisclosure agreement, non-compete contract and various confidentially forms. It is also necessary that the proprietor has a lawyer to ensure such documents are enforceable in a law court. So, which restrictions are legal in employment agreements?

Confidentiality Restrictions

This is one of the most typical restrictions that can be found in almost any employment agreement. Confidentiality restrictions are designed to protect the company from an employee disclosing its information to third parties by allowing the employer to claim for injunctive and financial damages. Considering the last incident occurred to Elon Musk and his Tesla, Inc., where disgruntled employee hacked the system and stole confidential information, it is no small thing. It could additionally limit the use of confidential information by the worker while employed. The type of data that could be restricted is practically unlimited.

Termination Restrictions

Employment contracts can consist of constraints on termination. These restrictions could supersede any state law that presumes “at-will” employment. At-will employment suggests that either the employer or staff member may end the employment for any type of reason (or no reason) except for provided for by legislations securing workers from discrimination and various other illegal practices. Employment agreement could have “for  cause” constraints that don’t necessarily imply misbehavior but can consist of “continued incapacity to perform” or a few other given reason. If the term “cause” is not specified in the contract, the courts will need to determine what exactly the parties implied by the term.

Non-Compete Restrictions

In some situations, an employer will seek ways to protect the company from staff members taking customers or trade secrets should they leave. Because of the market being over-flooded, it is essential to stand out of the crowd of your competitors. To accomplish this, the employer puts non-compete restrictions in the employment agreement. However, numerous states have actually recognized such limitations invalid. For example, in Tennessee non-compete agreements or restrictive covenants are not always enforceable and are generally not favored by the courts. To determine whether such restriction is legal, courts review the possible risks the employer could face without it and the economic hardship imposed on the employee by the agreement.

Other Restrictions

The other types of restrictions may concern relationships with colleagues or the employer. For example, under the non-disparagement clauses, employee is prevented from saying negative or disparaging things about the employer. To avoid any interference into the relationships between the employer and customers or vendors, non-interference restrictions may be included in the employment agreement.  Non-solicitation restrictions protect against the worker approaching other workers for the purpose of getting them to leave the firm.

Legal Assistance in Employment Agreements

Whether you are an employee or employer, you should remember that the main purpose of employment agreements is to maintain confidence in the both parties interests during employment. It is strongly recommended to search for legal assistance while signing or concluding such type of agreements.

If the former or existing worker encounters unnecessary hardship for agreements as well as restrictive agreements, they could need to work with an attorney to seek a situation against the employer. The Chattanooga employment law attorneys of McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stulce, PLLC, will work hard to shield the client from negative impact on the business or industry and seek a positive outcome. Contact us today!

Got Fired In Chattanooga? Find Out If It Was Illegal

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If you’ve been fired from your work and also the situations appear unfair, you might be asking yourself if you could successfully sue your former employer of what’s referred to as “wrongful termination” as well as get compensated for your financial losses. Probably you feel upset or frustrated and it’s understandable, especially if you believe the reason of firing was unfair. However, not all firings that are unfair are illegal. Under federal and Tennessee laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of  “protected categories,” including when making decisions about firing. With decades of experience, the Chattanooga employment law attorneys of McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC,  have come out with a list of most common aspects that are illegal when firing.

What Makes a Firing Illegal?

Generally, employers don’t need a valid point — or any at all– to discharge their employees, since most work is “at will.” Yet government and also state legislations do distinguish several exceptions. As an example, employers typically can not fire at-will workers for the adhering to factors:

  • discrimination of mentioned above “protected categories” based on a age (over 40), disability, race, national origin, religion, marital status, sex (including pregnancy and related medical conditions) sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • rejection to protect you from harassment ( for example, coming from other employees) based on above characteristics.
  • failure to offer affordable lodging for your special needs, pregnancy, or religious beliefs.
  • refusal to provide you time off that you’re lawfully entitled to take, or.
    violation of an employment contract or the firm’s policy.
  • retaliation for exercising a legal right or for reporting certain unlawful activities

Typical Reasons for Firing That Aren’t Illegal

If your previous company’s actions weren’t prohibited under any one of the exceptions to the at-will guideline, your wrongful termination case possibly won’t go far. That can be irritating, yet it’s much better to know earlier rather than later on whether you have a possibility of getting any settlement for your problems.

Bullying or run-of-the-mill harassment

It’s a typical false opinion that any type of kind of workplace harassment is unlawful. Nevertheless, laws that call for companies to safeguard their employees from prohibited harassment apply just when you’re being targeted because of a protected characteristic. So you can have an unlawful harassment case under federal legislation if you were fired or required to quit due to the fact that you underwent severe or pervasive harassment based upon your sex, disability, ethnic background, or religion– as well as your company really did not deal with the situation correctly.

But numerous people say their supervisors or coworkers bullied them because of a personality problem or just because they didn’t like them. Unless that behavior was based on their race or one more protected characteristic, they possibly didn’t have a legit wrongful termination case.

Personal preferences

Several clients coming to McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC informed us that they were fired because their manager intended to hire a good friend or relative, or a new manager thought it would be better to start with a completely new staff. Others spoke of being reprimanded for situations other colleagues got away with (like lateness), or going through requirements not related to others (like a requirement to authorize credit report authorization). Unfortunately, unless such prejudiced attitude was based on a secured particular or there was an additional prohibited factor behind these actions, these workers would not have a legit wrongful termination claim.


More than half of the people with an unsuccessful wrongful termination case based on leave told us they were fired for taking personal leave, bereavement leave, too frequent sick leave (for minor health problems). The federal Family as well as Medical Leave Act does not shield employees that require time off for these reasons. Unfortunately, Tennessee law neither requires employers to provide sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

Posts on Facebook or other Social media

Constitutional free speech rights don’t put on those who help exclusive employers, but specific types of online speech might be protected under federal as well as state legislations. Federal regulations protect employees’ legal rights to connect with each other concerning pay issues as well as work environment problems, or to elevate concerns regarding their companies’ illegal actions. And some states restrict employers from disciplining employees for sharing political views. Yet in general, companies can legally discharge staff members for uploading declarations or images that could be seen as racist or sexist, or that disclose trade secrets or secret information.

Get Legal Help

Very often, employers don’t feel like telling their employees the real reason they’re being fired. Thus, if you have reasonable suspicion of being fired illegally, the best you can do is talking to an employment lawyer about the circumstances around your firing. Our attorneys at McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC  can tell you whether your employer’s actions might be illegal and whether you have a good chance of receiving compensation for your financial losses. Don’t hesitate to contact us and protect your rights.

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