Fair Labor Standards Act

Millions of hard-earned dollars are lost to employees each year due to employer violations of wage laws. Many employers, either intentionally or through ignorance of the law, fail to pay their employees at the appropriate rate of pay for all hours worked. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 guarantees workers payment for all hours worked and premium rates of pay for hours worked in excess of forty in a workweek.

What is the FLSA?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law on June 28, 1938 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The basic purpose of the law was and remains to ensure that the American labor force would not be victims of sub-standard starvation wages at the hands of big business. The law provides for the concept of overtime pay, which was a provision originally intended to create more jobs in post-depression America by penalizing employers by having to pay employees time and one-half for overtime hours.

Misclassified Exempt Status

There are certain exemptions from the requirements of the law that apply to specific types of businesses or specific types of work. To skirt their legal obligation to pay their employees overtime, sometimes employers will misclassify their employees as exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards. An example is treating a secretary as qualifying for the Administrative exemption merely because the employee receives a salary. Another example is when an employer labels an employee management but does not provide the employee with the required support that true management employees must be provided. To qualify as an exempt management employee, the employee must regularly and customarily manage at least two or more full-time employees, or the equivalent thereof [four part time employees, for example].

Taking Legal Action

The FLSA does not require severance pay, sick leave, vacations, or holidays. An aggrieved employee may bring a lawsuit against the employer for and on behalf of himself or herself and other employees similarly situated. A similarly situated employee must give his or her consent in a writing called a consent form to join the lawsuit, and file the consent form with the court where the action is pending. This is called a collective action because the employee has to take an affirmative step to become a plaintiff in the case, and is similar to, but different than a class action. In a class action, you will automatically be a plaintiff unless you take an affirmative action to opt-out.