What You Need to Know About Suing an Employer for Late Payment in Georgia
Many Georgia employees rely on bimonthly paychecks to pay bills, buy groceries, and save money. Here’s everything you need to know about suing a Georgia employer for late wages.
If a Georgia employer fails to provide timely paychecks, an employee can file a lawsuit. Georgia employees who win a late paycheck case can recover past compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Georgia Late Paycheck Laws
Georgia state law requires all employers to give employees a paycheck at least twice per month. The paydays must divide each month into equal periods. As a result, a Georgia employer can pay employees on the 1st and 15th every month but cannot distribute paychecks on the 5th and 25th.
Georgia’s paycheck laws apply to most workers. However, the law excludes some industries such as farming, sawmill, and turpentine companies.
In addition, Georgia paycheck laws do not apply to department heads, superintendents, or other officials. Employers can pay these employees monthly or yearly wages.
The majority of Georgia employees are entitled to bimonthly paychecks. An employee can file a lawsuit if an employer pays late or does not include all working hours. An employee can also sue if bi-monthly paychecks do not split the month into equal parts.
Nevertheless, Georgia employees who receive a late paycheck should inform their employer or Human Resources department. If a processing error, employee error, or simple mistake causes a late payment, an employer may voluntarily pay the original amount plus potential interest.
Related: Georgia Minimum Wage FAQs
If a Georgia employer repeatedly or intentionally submits late paychecks, an experienced attorney can help file a lawsuit.
Georgia Paycheck Requirements
Georgia law also specifies how an employer can legally pay an employee. Georgia employers must compensate employees with:
- Check, or
- Direct deposit
An employer can only use direct deposit with an employee’s consent. If an employee does not agree to direct deposit, their employer must provide cash or a check.
Georgia Late Paycheck Damages
Georgia employees who win a late paycheck court case can recoup unpaid wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Liquidated damages include any fees an employee incurs because their paycheck is late. For example, if an employee has to pay a $30 late fee to their credit card company because of a late paycheck. A Georgia court may order the employer to pay the employee an additional $30 in liquidated damages.
Georgia Minimum Wage Laws
In addition to late paychecks, some Georgia employees may illegally pay less than minimum wage. An employee receiving less than minimum wage can sue an employer to recover past compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, $2.10 less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, most Georgia employees must earn the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Certain employees, including domestic employees, newspaper carriers, and full-time students, may only receive Georgia’s $5.15 minimum wage.
Georgia has different laws for tipped employees. Employers can pay tipped employees as little as $2.13 per hour, so long as they receive enough tips to make an hourly wage of $7.25. Tipped employees still have the right to earn minimum wage and be paid on time.
Georgia employers can legally deduct expenses such as uniforms and tools from a paycheck, so long as the employee earns the correct minimum wage.
Georgia Overtime Laws
The FLSA requires most Georgia employers to pay hourly workers overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The workweek must be a consistent 7-day period, but it does not need to be Monday-Sunday or Sunday-Saturday.
Related: Tipped Employee Rights in Georgia
Overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times regular pay. Let’s imagine carpenter Carl makes $10 per hour. One week, Carl works 42 hours. Carl’s employer must pay him $400 for the first 40 hours he works. The last two hours are subject to overtime pay. As a result, Carl’s employer must pay him at least $15 per hour (1.5 times $10) for these two hours. Carl takes home at least $430 ($400 plus $30).
If an employer fails to pay a proper overtime rate, a Georgia employee should consult an experienced attorney or contact the Georgia Department of Labor.