What is the FLSA?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a United States federal law established in 1938 that applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce. The FLSA established a national minimum wage, guaranteed time and a half for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in “oppressive child labor.”
On August 23, 2004, controversial changes to the FLSA’s overtime regulations went into effect, making substantial modifications to the definition of an “exempt” employee. Low level working supervisors all throughout American industry were reclassified as “executives” and lost overtime rights. Attempts in Congress to overturn the new regulations were unsuccessful.
Several exemptions exist that relieve an employer from having to meet the statutory minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping requirements. The largest exception applies to executive exemptions applicable to professional, administrative and executive employees. Exemptions are narrowly construed; an employer must prove that the employees fit plainly and unmistakably within the exemptions terms.
The FLSA applies to any individual employed by an employer but not to independent contractors or volunteers because they are not considered “employees” under the FLSA. Still, an employer cannot simply exempt workers from the FLSA by calling them independent contractors, and many employers have illegally misclassified their workers as independent contractors.
The FLSA was put in place to:
- Create a standard minimum wage requirement for most workers.
- Make considerations for “overtime” pay for workers that work beyond a set threshold.
- Limit the type of work certain minors can perform and the hours they are allowed to work.
- Create stiff penalties for those that fail to follow the law.
What the FLSA is NOT:
The FLSA sets basic minimum wage and overtime pay and regulates the employment of minors, but there are a number of employment practices which FLSA does not regulate:
- Pay raises, bonuses or benefits;
- Vacation length or pay;
- Holiday length or pay;
- Severance pay;
- Sick pay; or
- The length of the work day or week.
The FLSA does not apply to all employment types. Here are a few exemptions:
- Executives, who earn a salary and are responsible for the management of an enterprise with two or more employees.
- Administrators, who earn a salary and are tasked with the management or general operations of the employer.
- Professionals, who earn a salary and are tasked with the performance or knowledge of an advanced field of science that is normally acquired through specialized education.
Beasley Allen has recently won settlements in several cases related to both executive exemption and independent contractor exemption claims, as well as donning and doffing.
Fred’s – We represented approximately 1,200 assistant managers in the lawsuit against Fred’s who were managers in name only. These employees were denied overtime pay, despite spending the large majority of their time performing the same work as hourly employees. A confidential settlement was reached in 2009.
West – In the case against West, we represented 2,947 telemarketers who were classified as independent contractors. Although classified as independent contractors, West controlled every aspect of their jobs. As a result of being treated as independent contractors, telemarketers were not guaranteed the minimum wage or overtime pay for hours worked over 40 each week. Additionally, West did not have to pay payroll taxes or insurance premiums. A confidential settlement was reached in 2009.
Wayne Farms –The case against Wayne Farms concerned the donning and doffing of protective clothing at a poultry plant. The donning and doffing of protective clothing was a substantial part of the employees’ jobs. Yet, employees were not compensated for the time spent donning and doffing the protective clothing. The case involved approximately 1,262 plaintiffs and a confidential settlement was reached in 2009.
What can I do?
If you feel you have a case where your employer is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, you may have a claim. For a free legal consultation, contact us today.