FLSA Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I recently started working at a large machine shop. I am required to be at work 15 minutes before I punch-in for my shift to inspect my equipment and make sure it is working properly. Am I entitled to get paid for this 15-minute period?
A: Yes. This is called working off the clock and is illegal. Employers must pay their employees for all hours that they suffer or permit their employees to work. You may be entitled to overtime if you worked over 40 hours in a week.
Q: I recently started working at a new job. My boss had me sign a lot of paperwork when I was hired. After two weeks, I noticed that I wasn’t getting paid overtime. I asked my boss about it and he told me that I had signed a waiver when I started working and that he didn’t have to pay me overtime. Is he right?
A: No. employers are not permitted to have their employees sign contracts that violate the law. Your employer is not allowed to have you waive your right to be paid for all hours worked at the appropriate rate. Private agreements, including union contracts, cannot deny employees compensation guaranteed to them by law.
Q: I am a telemarketer. I log onto a computer that keeps track of the time I spend on the phone every day. I only get paid for the time I spend making calls. If I leave my desk during the day, I lose pay for the time I’m not on the phone. When we have staff meetings, all of us are required to log off our computers and we don’t get paid. Is this legal?
A: No. employees are to be paid for all hours worked. If you are away from your desk and are performing job related tasks, you must be paid for that time.
Q: I get two 15-minute breaks every day. I have to punch out for them and I don’t get paid. Is this legal?
A: No. All breaks under twenty minutes must be compensated. Employers frequently violate this law, either deliberately or because they are not aware that the law requires that breaks less than twenty minutes be paid.
Q: What should I be getting paid for the overtime hours I work?
A: Any overtime hours worked should be calculated at one and one-half times your regular rate of pay.
Q: I’m a driver for a doormat company. I pick up and drop off mats. I’m paid a salary and work at least 45 hours a week because I have to do a lot of paperwork. My job title is account executive. Am I entitled to overtime?
A: Yes. The term “executive” means your primary duties are management, you supervise two or more workers, and you have authority to hire and fire. You’re not a true executive, and are entitled to overtime.
Q: I’m a manager at a large national retail store, and am compensated on a salary basis. The store is divided into three zones, and each zone has a manager. The store assigns four employees to the three managers to support the managers. When products are delivered, it is the manager’s responsibility to ensure the unloading and stocking of the product. If the employees assigned to the managers are performing duties for those other managers, I have to do all the of labor to complete the delivery of the product, and sometimes I have to stay as much as two to three hours after my scheduled shift to finish my job. Is this legal? Am I entitled to overtime?
A: No. This is not legal and yes, you are entitled to overtime. The term “manager” means your primary duties are management, and you supervise two or more full time workers, which may be comprised of part-time positions. Stated another way, a true manager is entitled to 80 man hours per week of support. You’re not a true manager, and are entitled to overtime.
Q: What type of damages am I entitled to if my employer violates the FLSA?
A: You may recover damages looking back two years from the date a legal complaint is filed. This liability extends back an extra year if the violation was intentional. The FLSA also provides for liquidated damages, or double the amount of your actual damages. In addition, a prevailing party that brings a claim under the FLSA is entitled to an award of costs and a reasonable attorney’s fee.
Q: What steps do I need to take to protect my legal options under the FLSA?
A: Unlike employment discrimination statutes, you are not required to file an administrative charge to protect your rights. The FLSA is a law of entitlement, not a discrimination law. Be mindful of the time in which suit must be filed because the value of the claim is lost every day suit is not filed.