Employees File Collective Action Against National Bathtub Refinishing Company

Two former employees of Unique Refinishers have sued the company alleging that they were not paid overtime wages, seeking to have their case certified as a collective action on behalf of other employees who were similarly underpaid.

Unique Refinishers, Inc. is the nation’s largest bathtub and tile repair, refinishing, and reglazing company. The company has locations in Atlanta and Detroit and provides services to apartment complexes, hotels, universities, general contractors, and to individuals throughout the U.S. It is also the preferred vendor of slip-resistant bathtub treatments for many major hotels throughout the country.

In their Complaint, the plaintiffs allege that their primary duties as “technicians” were performed glazing and tile cleaning and restoration services for Refinishers’ customers. They say that the company claimed to pay them on a “commission-only basis,” and that they worked more than 40 hours per week without receiving additional overtime pay.

The plaintiffs have also filed suit against two of the company’s corporate officers, in addition to the company itself. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, individual owners, officers, and managers may be individually liable for unpaid overtime and minimum wages, depending on their role in the company’s operations.

The plaintiffs are seeking to bring a collective action, which is similar to the better-known “class” action, but requires each participating employee to file a consent form to join. If it is certified by the court, the collective action would cover all the technicians–out of both the Atlanta and Detroit locations–who have worked more than 40 hours per week in the past three years but were not paid overtime wages. Upon certification, the court would approve a notice to be sent out to all the eligible employees, informing them of their right to opt in to the lawsuit. So far, four other technicians have already filed consent forms.

The plaintiffs in this case is represented by attorneys Mitchell D. Benjamin and Matthew W. Herrington of the law firm DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. The case is captioned Weakland et al. v. Unique Refinishers, Inc. et al., 1:19-cv-02581-ODE (N.D. Ga.). 

Johnny’s Pizza Franchisee Settles Overtime Claim and Makes Collective Action Disappear

Last week, a federal court in Athens, Georgia approved the settlement of overtime claims brought by a former kitchen worker against a Johnny’s Pizza franchisee. The case was filed as a collective action on behalf of all the hourly workers at the Athens Johnny’s location, whom the claims were also underpaid.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that he worked at the Athens Johnny’s location from June 2017 through August 2018, first as a cook and driver/dishwasher, and later as the restaurant’s Kitchen Manager. The plaintiff attached payroll documents to his complaint showing that in several workweeks he was paid “straight time” at his regular hourly rate even when he worked at more than 40 hours per week.

The lawsuit further alleges that other cooks, drivers, dishwashers, kitchen managers, and assistant managers were similarly denied proper “time-and-a-half” payments for overtime hours worked. The plaintiff sought in his complaint to have a collective action certified so that all the underpaid employees could recover their unpaid wages.

Assuming that the allegations in the complaint are true, it would now appear that many other Johnny’s employees may not recover their unpaid overtime wages, because the case has been settled for only the single plaintiff who brought the case. In the settlement, the plaintiff and one other employee will receive a total of $4,54o in back wages and liquidated damages, plus attorney’s fees and costs of litigation. The case was terminated and will not be certified as a collective action, meaning that other Johnny’s employees will not receive a court-approved notice of the lawsuit and their right to “opt in” as plaintiffs.

Unlike in almost every other type of lawsuit, federal minimum wage and overtime lawsuits brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act must generally be approved by a judge to be effective. This means that confidentiality in an FLSA settlement is generally not possible. Courts reason that there is a strong public policy in favor of employees learning about other employees’ claims of unpaid wages so that they too can seek to be paid.

While the settlement of this case may not be confidential, the employer has likely been able to avoid potential liability to numerous other employees by settling the case early, before the court could certify a collective action. An early settlement was very likely the best decision for the two employees who participated in this settlement, but it has the unfortunate side-effect of preventing other employees from learning that their rights may have been infringed.

The plaintiff in this case was represented by Michael Moore and Aimee Hall of the law firm Pope McGlamry Kilpatrick Morrison & Norwood, P.C. in Atlanta, GA, and David Garrison and Joshua Frank of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC in Nashville, TN. The case is captioned Garcia v. Athena Capital, LLC d/b/a Johnny’s Pizza, 3:18-cv-00136-CDL (M.D. Ga.).

McDonald’s Worker Sues Franchisee for Malicious Prosecution and FLSA Retaliation

A former Newnan, Georgia McDonald’s manager has sued the owner-operator of the franchise accusing her of falsely accusing her of theft and having her prosecuted after she complained to the U.S. Department of Labor about overtime violations and attempted to organize other employees to recover their unpaid wages.

In her suit, the employee alleges that in November 2016 she complained to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division regarding unpaid overtime wages at her McDonald’s store at 1425 Highway 29 South in Newnan, Georgia. After speaking to the federal authorities, she then began gathering evidence of the overtime violations and communicating with other employees in the store about joining together to fight the wage theft.

According to the lawsuit, the franchise owner, Muriel Powell, learned about the manager’s efforts in early January 2017 and on January 11, 2017, contacted the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office to report an alleged theft of over $2,000 from the store’s safe the previous week. Powell showed investigators a cell phone video of security system footage that she alleged showed the plaintiff taking bags that had money in them. But Powell did not show the investigators footage of the plaintiff actually removing the bags from the safe or any evidence of what the bags actually contained.

Based on Powell’s allegations, the manager was charged with felony theft and was arrested months later. She spent three days in jail before finally being released. Despite multiple requests from the investigators, Powell never turned over the original security footage and finally claimed it had been destroyed. The prosecutor ultimately refused to prosecute the case and the charges were dropped in April of 2018.

In her lawsuit, the manager claims that Powell falsely accused her of theft in retaliation for her efforts to obtain back wages for herself and other employees, and that as a result of the malicious prosecution for theft she “suffered lost wages, depression, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of liberty.” She is also seeking unpaid minimum wages, overtime wages, liquidated damages, and damages for lost wages she suffered as a result of not being able to find other work while charged with a crime.

Retaliation for asserting the right to minimum and overtime wages can take many forms. Most commonly, employees are simply terminated when they bring illegal pay practices to light. Other times, they may have their pay reduced, shifts cut, or their employer may attempt to blackball them and prevent them from finding other work. The Fair Labor Standards Act protects employees who have been retaliated against for demanding to be paid properly and allows them to recover back wages, liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.

The plaintiff in this case is represented by attorneys Charles R. Bridgers and Matthew W. Herrington of the law firm DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. The case is captioned Brown v. Golden Partners, LLC et al., 1:19-cv-00016-TCB (N.D. Ga.). 

Federal Court Rules that Atlanta’s Follies Strip Club Failed to Pay Dancer Minimum Wages

Yesterday, Judge Michael Brown in the Northern District of Georgia issued a lengthy Order holding that an exotic dancer was an employee of the strip club as a matter of law, and that the club and its owners misclassified her as an independent contractor. The court also held that because the club failed to pay the dancer any wages–requiring her to work for tips only and actually pay the club out of her own pocket–the club and its owners violated the federal minimum wage law found in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is not the first time a strip club has been sued over unpaid wages. Far from it. In cases going back to the early 1990’s, court after court has determined that exotic dancers are entitled to be paid minimum wages just like every other employee. In fact, numerous other clubs in Atlanta have been found in violation of the FLSA’s minimum wage requirements, including Club Onyx and Magic City and Swinging Richards. 

Over and over, courts have explained that the fact dancers are tipped by customers doesn’t make them any different than bartenders, waitresses, or sommeliers. And that is true no matter how many tips an employee receives. FLSA-covered employers always have an obligation to pay minimum wages regardless of how many tips an employee receives.

Seemingly no matter how many times the courts rule against them, strip clubs do not learn their lesson and continue to violate federal wages laws. It stands to reason that club owners have simply decided that they make more money breaking the law than they end up having to pay out to the relatively small portion of dancers who sue.

The Follies has between 60 and 100 female dancer working at any one time. And yet the defendants had the audacity to argue to the court that dancers are not “integral” to their business. The judge had none of that, noting the other courts who had rejected that argument as “absurd,” and pointing to the Follies sign with the club’s name and logo, taking the shape of a woman in underwear and high heels.

In this case, the question of damages was separated from the liability portion of the case. So the next step will be for the plaintiff to proceed to trial and ask a jury to determine how many hours she worked and how much unpaid wages she is due.

The plaintiff was represented by attorneys Michael A. Caldwell, Charles R. Bridgers, and Matthew W. Herrington of the law firm DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. The case is captioned Hurst v. Youngelson et al., 1:15-cv-3560-MLB (N.D. Ga.).

Mother of Cancer Victim Wins Appeal on Her FMLA Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has reversed the dismissal of a Jacksonville woman’s FMLA claims, giving new life to her lawsuit against her former employer. The court’s opinion is a strong reminder of how frequently trial courts overstep their authority by dismissing employees’ lawsuits rather than allowing a jury to hear the evidence.

The plaintiff (“Benz”) was a warehouse manager for Crowley Maritime Corporation and Crowley Logistics, Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida, where she had worked for nearly 12 years. Throughout her career at Crowley, Benz received numerous promotions, awards, and glowing performance reviews, including her last one in February 2014.

In July 2014, Benz’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer, as a result of which Benz took one month of FMLA leave to care for her daughter. The day before her leave began, a senior Crowley manager emailed Benz’s immediate superior and stated that she was “concern[ed] about this FML from [Benz]” and that “we should sit and have a backup plan in place.” While Benz was not terminated in 2014, following that month-long leave, her superiors began amassing a pile of written complaints against Benz, but without informing Benz of any serious problems.  In October, the corporate manager sent an email about the alleged problems with Benz’s performance and noted that “[w]e do have enough to let [her] go at this time.” Another Crowley manager delayed the planned termination until after Christmas, but December and January passed with no action taken.

In January, Benz took a week of FMLA leave to be with her daughter while she received cancer treatment in Texas. Immediately after she requested the leave, her superiors began emailing each other about terminating her. Finally, on February 4, Benz requested another month of FMLA leave to continue caring for her daughter. HR approved the request, but the next day the same senior manager made the decision to terminate her employment. The managers who personally terminated Benz told her it was due to “budget cuts” and did not mention any kind of performance issues.

Benz sued claiming that Crowley interfered with her FMLA rights and retaliated against her for exercising her FMLA rights. The trial court in Jacksonville ultimately dismissed Benz’s case on summary judgment concluding that the plaintiff had not made a connection between the FMLA leave and the termination decision. The trial court also dismissively complained that it was not a “super-personnel department” and stated that it would not “examin[e] the wisdom” of Crowley’s business decisions.

On appeal, the 11th Circuit properly construed the evidence on summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor—as the trial could should have done—and concluded that a termination just two days after Benz’s FMLA request was adequate to allow a jury to conclude that it was retaliatory.

Proving discriminatory or retaliatory intent is undoubtedly the most difficult hurdle an employee faces in litigation. Many district courts are more than happy to simply accept the employer’s version of events as true and ignore circumstantial evidence of intent. It is heartening to see that in this case the 11th Circuit was willing to ensure that this plaintiff is able to put her evidence in front of a jury.

The plaintiff is this case was represented by attorneys Kirsten Doolittle and Scott T. Fortune. The appeal is captioned Benz v. Crowley Maritime Corporate et al., No. 16-17363 (11th Cir.), on appeal from the Middle District of Florida.

Exotic Dancers Prevail at Jury Trial Against Swinging Richards

Last Wednesday, a federal jury in Atlanta returned a verdict against the well known male strip club Swinging Richards in favor of 5 current and former exotic dancers, awarding them over $322,000 in back wages. This jury verdict follows a $1.36 million settlement the club reached with 37 other exotic dancers in 2017.

The five dancers filed suit in 2015 and 2016 alleging that Swinging Richards and its owner, C.B. Jones II, had not paid them any wages whatsoever for years on end and had required them to pay various fees and fines each shift for the privilege of working.  Last year, the court determined as a matter of law that the dancers should have been classified as employees rather than independent contractors and that they were entitled to recover $7.25 for each hour worked and to recover the fees and fines that they were illegally required to pay to work.  As a result, the jury was asked only to determine the amounts of damages for each dancer. The jury’s verdict awarded each of the dancers essentially 100% of the damages they were seeking.

The jury was also asked to determine whether the club and its owner had retaliated against one of the dancers by forcing him to withdraw from the earlier collective action in order to be rehired. At trial, the jury heard testimony from the club’s former general manager, Matt Colunga, who testified that owner C.B. Jones specifically told him not to rehire the dancer because he had joined the previous case. Colunga also testified that, in some cases, Jones told him to bribe dancers to get them to drop their claims. At the end of trial, the jury found that the dancer had been retaliated against and awarded him the back wages that he could have recovered in the previous case were it not for his coerced withdrawal.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is the federal law that established the requirement to pay covered workers a minimum wage and overtime premiums. Employees who file claims under the FLSA or make formal complaints about failure to pay minimum wages or overtime are protected from retaliation by their employers. The FLSA also provides that employees who have been denied wages are entitled to receive double damages. For this reason, the $322,000 that the jury awarded to the Swinging Richards dancers will almost certainly be doubled by the court to $644,000, plus their attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.

The 5 dancers were represented by Mitchell D. Benjamin and Matthew W. Herrington of the law firm DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. The case is captioned Casey et al. v. 1400 Northside Drive, Inc. et al., 1:16-cv-4517-SCJ (N.D. Ga.)

Bartender Who Worked for Tips Only Wins $98,000 Judgment Against Atlanta Nightclub

While the restaurant and bar industry is rife with minimum wage and overtime violations, one of the most egregious ways that these employers cheat workers is by forcing tipped employees to work for tips only. While employers are entitled to offset a portion of the federal minimum wage with tips, they must pay at least $2.13 per hour to tipped employees each week or lose the ability to claim any tip credit at all. Yesterday, one Atlanta nightclub and its owner learned this lesson the hard way.

On Wednesday, a federal judge issued a $98,000 judgment against Blue Ivory Restaurant and Lounge in favor of a former bartender and waitress. This judgment included $39,000 in unpaid minimum wages and overtime, plus another $39,000 in liquidated damages and $20,000 in attorney’s fees.

In her complaint, the bartender alleged that she worked for Blue Ivory and its owner, Trederick Gray, from late-December 2014 through December 10, 2016, that she received no wages at all, having been told that she would work for tips only. At first, the Defendants simply ignored the lawsuit, which resulted in the court placing them in default. The defendants eventually attempted multiple times to have the default lifted but the court refused to do so, finding that they had failed to show any good cause for lifting the default. Because of this, the defendants’ liability was admitted and the only issues remaining to be determined were the plaintiff’s damages.

During the damages hearing on Wednesday, the plaintiff testified that all of the serving and bartending staff at Blue Ivory had been forced to worked for tips only, and that owner Trederick Gray had stated to her repeatedly that he didn’t see any purpose in paying bartenders and servers. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court accepted the plaintiff’s calculation of her unpaid wages and granted her 100% of what she had requested.

The plaintiff in this case was represented by Charles R. Bridgers and Matthew W. Herrington of DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. The case is captioned Floyd v. Blue Ivory Restaurant, LLC et al., 1:17cv443-TWT (N.D. Ga.).

Supreme Court Guts Rule Limiting FLSA Exemptions

In yet another sign that Donald Trump’s election will have devastating effects on American workers for decades to come, today the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion that not only expanded the FLSA’s automobile dealership exemption, but also eliminated the decades-old principle that courts should construe the minimum wage and overtime exemptions narrowly.

In Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro et al., the Court considered a case out of California in which a car dealership treated its “service advisors” as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime pay requirement. The dealership relied on the exemption found at 29 U. S. C. § 213(b)(10)(A), which exempts “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles,trucks, or farm implements.” While the District Court found the service advisors to be exempt, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the exemption was ambiguous and that the Department of Labor’s regulation distinguishing non-exempt service advisors from exempt salesmen. Finally, the Supreme Court considered the case and, in a majority opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, reversed the Ninth Circuit (and with it, the Department of Labor).

The Court’s primary holding—that service advisors qualify as “salesmen” who “service automobiles” was based primarily on analysis of the grammatical structure of the exemption’s text. Notably, the majority rejected the Ninth Circuit’s reliance on the Department of Labor guidelines that were in place when the exemption became law and the legislative history of the § 213 exemptions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, along with Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, dissented from the majority opinion. The dissenters noted that

Service advisors, such as respondents, neither sell automobiles nor service (i.e., repair or maintain) vehicles. Rather, they “meet and greet [car]owners”; “solicit and sugges[t]” repair services “to remedythe [owner’s] complaints”; “solicit and suggest . . . supplemental [vehicle] service[s]”; and provide owners with cost estimates. App. 55. Because service advisors neither sell nor repair automobiles, they should remain outside the exemption and within the Act’s coverage.

 Congress confined the dealership exemption to three categories of employees: automobile salesmen, mechanics, and partsmen. . . . Congress did not exempt numerous other categories of dealership employees, among them, automobile painters, upholsterers, bookkeeping workers, cashiers, janitors, purchasing agents, shipping and receiving clerks, and, most relevant here, service advisors. These positions and their duties were well known at the time, as documented in U. S. Government catalogs of American jobs.

The dissenters also noted that the exemption’s original rationale was largely based on the fact that salesmen can be asked to work irregular schedules with wildly fluctuating hours, while service advisors “wor[k] ordinary, fixed schedules on-site.”

The Court’s conservative majority could have simply relied on their interpretation of the exemption’s text to reach the decision that they did. But they were not content to issue a narrow opinion that would simply resolve the issue in this case. Instead, the majority gratuitously overturned more than a half-century of precedent under which Courts have uniformly construed FLSA exemptions “narrowly.” The majority noted that the Ninth Circuit had “also invoked the principle that exemptions to the FLSA should be construed narrowly” and then immediately “reject[s] this principle as a useful guidepost for interpreting the FLSA.” Thus, in a single paragraph and virtually without analysis, the conservative majority demolished over half a century of precedent that has guided courts across the nation. They ignore the fact that all amendments to the FLSA since the 1960’s have been made with the underlying assumption that its exemptions would be construed narrowly.

The dissent noted this large departure from established precedent in a footnote:

This Court has long held that FLSA “exemptions are to be narrowly construed against the employers seeking to assert them and their application limited to those [cases] plainly and unmistakably within their terms and spirit.” Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, Inc., 361 U. S. 388, 392 (1960). This principle is a well-grounded application of the general rule that an “exception to a general statement of policy is usually read. . . narrowly in order to preserve the primary operation of the provision.” Maracich v. Spears, 570 U. S. 48, 60 (2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). In a single paragraph, the Court “reject[s]” this longstanding principle as applied to the FLSA . . . without even acknowledging that it unsettles more than half a century of our precedent.

Unfortunately for workers throughout the country, it is clear that the Court’s current conservative majority is willing to throw principles of stare decisis and judicial minimalism out the window if it serves the purpose of undermining workers’ rights. If Kennedy or any of the Court’s liberal justices is replaced this year, the country can look forward to at least 30 more years of judicial interference with congressional attempts to protect workers.

Grease Guard Service Technician To Receive Unpaid Overtime Following Arbitration

In February 2014, a former service technician for Rooftop Solutions filed a lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta alleging that the company and one of its executives had failed to pay him overtime compensation even though he worked more than 40 hours per week. Rooftop Solutions is the “servicing division” of Grease Guard, LLC, the manufacturer of a system designed to capture oils and greases deposited on commercial and industrial rooftops around exhaust equipment. According to the complaint, the former Rooftop Solutions service technician worked throughout Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina for approximately one year in 2013 and 2014.

After the lawsuit was filed, the case was sent to arbitration to be decided by a private arbitrator rather than a judge. After a lengthy time in arbitration, Grease Guard and the executive ultimately agreed to pay the former service technician $3,000 in unpaid wages to settle his overtime claims. The arbitrator then awarded the employee $33,485.92 in attorney’s fees and $3,398.57 in costs of arbitration, for a total award of $39,884.49. The employee has now returned to the original court moving to make the arbitrator’s award entered as the court’s final judgment.

The Fair Labor Standards Act ensures that employees can pursue even small claims for unpaid overtime and minimum wages by guaranteeing attorney’s fees and costs to a plaintiff who prevails on an overtime or minimum wage claim. That guarantee applies even when the employee is forced into binding arbitration by his employer. If this were not the case, employers could act like “petty tyrants” and break the minimum wage and overtime laws with impunity, knowing that their employees’ claims are too small to justify paying for a lawyer’s time. The FLSA and several other federal employment laws make sure that employers who undercompensate their employees can be held accountable.

The case against Grease Guard is captioned Thomas v. Grease Guard, LLC d/b/a Rooftop Solutions, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-619-MHC (N.D. Ga.). The plaintiff is represented by attorneys from DeLong Caldwell Bridgers Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia.

Workers Sue Townsend Tree Service Over Unpaid Overtime

In June, three former employees of Townsend Tree Service sued two Townsend companies, alleging that the companies failed to pay them overtime as required by federal law. The three plaintiffs, who have worked for Townsend as foremen, operators, climbers, and groundsmen, brought their lawsuit as a collective action on behalf of all current and former Townsend tree crew members with unpaid overtime wages. Townsend Tree Service is one of the nation’s largest companies performing tree-trimming, clearance and integrated vegetation management services, operating in 30 states across the country.

The three named plaintiffs describe several practices at Townsend that they argue violated federal overtime laws. Specifically, they claim that Townsend paid them at one hourly rate for their first 40 hours of work, then lowered their hourly rate for hours worked over 40 hours per week. According to the plaintiffs, Townsend disguised the underpayments of overtime wages by labeling them as “other pay” on their paystubs.

The former tree crew members also claim that they were not relieved of their duties for meal breaks, but that Townsend automatically deducted 30 minutes from their pay each day, regardless of whether they could take a meal break or not. Finally, the plaintiffs also claim that Townsend did not compensate them for daily preparation time and travel time, although their job duties began long before they arrived at job sites and started getting paid. The result of these practices, the plaintiffs argue, is that they and other Townsend tree crew members regularly worked far in excess of 40 hours per week but received no additional compensation.

Townsend was previously sued in Georgia in 2013 by eight of its former tree crew members who similarly claimed that the company did not pay them overtime wages. That case ultimately settled and was never certified by the court as a collective action.

Unpaid meal breaks and travel time are frequent sources of minimum wage and overtime litigation. While employers typically are not required to pay employees for meal breaks of 30 minutes or longer, that rule does not apply when workers are not truly relieved of their duties. If employees may be interrupted and required to begin work at any time, or if they are required to eat lunch at their desks, that time may count towards their total compensable hours under the federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

Similarly, travel to and from work is usually not compensable and will not count towards an employer’s minimum wage and overtime obligations. But that can easily change when an employee must begin working before leaving home, travels in a company vehicle and transports heavy equipment, meets other employees at a “staging point” before going to a job site, or when the worker travels out of state to moving job sites. The U.S. Department of Labor’s regulations regarding compensation for travel time are notoriously complex and whether a violation occurred has to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The case against Townsend Tree Service is captioned Hart et al. v. The Townsend Corporation et al., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-2126-SCJ (N.D. Ga.). The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from DeLong Caldwell Bridgers Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia.