The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 and other notable labor laws passed on the state and federal levels provide crucial labor protections for millions of employees in the United States.
Employers who fail to abide by federal and state employment laws may be subject to civil money penalties and can be sued individually or collectively by many, depending on how many employees are impacted.
If you’re a worker who’s been denied overtime pay, underpaid, or been the victim of another type of wage theft—you may be able to file an FLSA claim against your employer to recover your wages and seek additional compensation with the help of an experienced wage and hour attorney.
At the law firm of Florin|Roebig, our employment lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the rights of workers and securing fair settlements to compensate workers for their due wages. Learn more about wage and overtime rights for employees and how to find an unpaid and overtime wages attorney near you.
What Is The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal U.S. labor law that was passed in 1938 to establish crucial workers rights and employment regulations. This law is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
The FLSA establishes the following for eligible U.S. employees:
- federal minimum wage requirements
- overtime pay
- child labor protections
- hours worked
These legal protections and wage requirements cover an estimated 143 million workers in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Who Is Covered By The Fair Labor Standards Act?
To be eligible for FLSA protections, particularly as it pertains to overtime and minimum wage requirements, employees must meet the criteria of one of two primary forms of coverage:
Enterprise coverage covers all workers employed by companies that earn at least $500,000 annually and have at least two employees. This coverage also extends to workers employed by schools, government agencies, hospitals, and other businesses that provide nursing or medical care for residents.
Individual coverage protects nearly all other workers, specifically protecting individual workers who are “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.”
Examples of workers who are typically protected under individual coverage:
- domestic service workers (e.g. cooks, full-time babysitters, housekeepers who make at least $1,700 from their domestic work in a calendar year)
- factory workers
- janitorial workers
- others involved in interstate commerce
Although employers are required to adhere to these federal wage and overtime provisions, many instances of wage theft and labor violations still occur in the U.S. each year, often impacting employees in vulnerable or low-wage occupations.
Retaliation Protection For Employees Under FLSA
The FLSA also provides protection from retaliation by employers. This means an employer may not retaliate against an employee if they are taking an action that protects their rights as an employee.
Actions which are protected by the FLSA include:
- demanding to be paid minimum wage or overtime pursuant to the requirements of the FLSA
- objecting to a violation of the FLSA
- refusing to participate in a violation of the FLSA
- filing a complaint or legal claim against an employer for violating the FLSA
Types Of Employees Affected By Wage/Overtime Violations
When it comes to unpaid wages and overtime violations, there are some types of workers that tend to be more vulnerable to these wrongdoings than others.
The following include a number of occupations often impacted by wage and hour law violations:
- call center employees
- sales representatives
- IT workers
- personal bankers
- mortgage brokers
- service workers
- food delivery drivers
- dry cleaner workers
- construction workers
- installation specialists
- oil and gas field workers
- retail employees
- janitorial custodians
- healthcare workers
- tipped employees (e.g. servers)
- disaster relief workers
Employees who identify with one or more of the occupations listed above are often protected by wage and hour requirements established under the FLSA. If you’re an employee within one of these industries who has been denied pay, underpaid by FLSA standards, or otherwise paid improperly, you may be entitled to collect compensation through an FLSA wage and hour claims process.
Types Of Wage Theft And Overtime Law Violations
Employers have a responsibility to properly compensate their employees according to labor standards outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Despite these well-known labor laws and wage standards, there are many employers who will knowingly violate these laws in order to avoid paying employees their due wages.
Common types of FLSA violations include:
- misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime requirements
- forcing non-exempt employees to work while clocked out (e.g., for lunch)
- violating minimum wage requirements
- failing to pay employees for all hours worked
- unlawful distribution of tips among non-tipped employees
One of the ways employers can cheat employees out of their well-deserved earnings is by misclassifying them, thereby excluding them from FLSA wage and overtime requirements.
The two most common misclassifications named in wage theft claims are instances in which employees are misclassified as exempt or as independent contractors. Under the FLSA, there are certain employees who are considered exempt from the minimum wage and overtime provisions. Misclassifying employees as exempt workers is one way in which employers can attempt to unlawfully deny employees the earnings they are owed.
Misclassifying employees as contractors is another common violation practiced by employers who wish to skirt FLSA wage and overtime standards. This poses an issue for these misclassified workers because unlike staffed employees, independent contractors are self-employed and are not entitled to overtime pay.
Minimum Wage Violations
The federal minimum wage is a key provision that was first established in the FLSA alongside other wage, overtime, and child labor provisions. Since its introduction, the minimum wage has increased over time on a federal level, with many states enforcing higher minimum wage requirements through state-level wage requirement legislation.
Currently, U.S. minimum wage requirements range from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 to the $14.00 minimum wage currently established in Washington D.C.
Willfully violating minimum wage standards is punishable by law. Employers who intentionally and repeatedly violate FLSA minimum wage or overtime provisions may be subject to civil money penalties for each violation. Employees may also file an unpaid wages claim or lawsuit against an employer to seek compensation for damages.
Failing To Pay For All Hours Worked
Employers are generally required to pay workers for all of the time they are required to be on the employer’s premises if that time is being spent for the benefit of the employer (unlike a lunch break), at another specified workplace, or otherwise on-duty.
Depending on the nature of an employee’s position and when they begin their work-day, this may include time spent:
- checking and responding to work-related emails
- cleaning work equipment
- being on-call
- putting on gear or equipment
- attending training or employee safety classes
- attending employer-required conferences or other events
- undergoing security checks
There is no federal law requiring employers to pay employees for meal or rest breaks. However, your employer should be accurately tracking your working hours to ensure you receive payment for all time spent on-duty, clocked-in to your workplace, or otherwise attending to work-related duties that are eligible for pay.
Employers who fail to pay employees for all hours worked—whether intentionally or unintentionally—may be subject to compensatory damages should one or more employees decide to sue.
Some employers follow a practice known as “tip-pooling” that involves having tipped employees contribute a certain amount of their tips into a collective pool to be later divided equally among all tipped employees. While this is not unlawful, it may invite some issues if the pooling occurs in a work environment that includes both tipped and non-tipped employees.
Pooled tips belong solely to tipped employees. If the tip pool is also distributed among non-tipped employees, this can have the impact of reducing tipped employee wages below minimum wage requirements, violating FLSA wage standards.
Overtime Law Violations
The FLSA contains several overtime-related provisions intended to regulate how and when employers are required to pay their employees for overtime.
Types of overtime violations include:
- averaging worker hours over the course of two weeks to avoid paying employees for overtime (as opposed to on 40-hour week)
- giving employees comp time (e.g. vacation days or sick leave) in lieu of overtime pay
- miscalculating employees’ overtime rates, resulting in wages that are less than what is owed to the employees working overtime hours
Important Facts About FLSA Wages And Overtime Requirements
Overtime: Overtime provisions within the FLSA state that any employee who is not deemed exempt is entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per workweek, at a rate of no less than one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay.
Additional facts about FLSA overtime pay:
- under most circumstances, overtime pay should be paid on usual paydays in addition to regular wages
- certain employees—such as firefighters, police officers, and some employees of hospitals and nursing homes—may be exempt from the 40-hour workweek standard
- the definition of a workweek, according to the FLSA, is any fixed and recurring period of seven consecutive 24-hour periods
Minimum Wage Requirements: The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. However, as of 2020, 29 states have minimum wages that exceed the federal minimum wage requirement.
Employees who receive tips that exceed $30 a month may be subject to separate minimum wage requirements as determined by their state. Youth employees under the age of 20 must be paid no less than $4.25 for the first 90 days of employment under federal law.
Does The Fair Labor Standards Act Cover All Employee Protections?
Although the FLSA covers several significant wage and hour protections for workers, this labor law alone does not offer comprehensive protection for employees.
Benefits and protections not required by the FLSA include:
- meal and break periods
- severance pay
- holiday or vacation pay
- sick pay
- holidays off
- pay raises or fringe benefits
- premium pay for weekend or holiday work
- reason for discharge or notice of discharge
- immediate payment of final wages for terminated employees
- limits for the number of hours employees must be required or scheduled to work
These additional benefits, protections, and requirements are sometimes taken for granted by some employees, while viewed as luxuries by others. Several of these labor practices are covered under other federal and state laws, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), Equal Pay Act, and other laws against employee discrimination.
Other common employment practices, such as meal and break times, are not required under any federal law. However, they are often provided by employers through an agreement between the employers and their employees, or their authorized representatives.
Under circumstances where employees are not given legal protections under federal labor laws, employees may still be eligible for protections depending on the state in which they live. Several states, for instance, do require employers to provide meal and rest breaks, vacation and sick leave, and other employee benefits.
With the many discrepancies between protections that are mandated and those that are not across the U.S., it can be difficult to keep track of which labor practices and wage standards apply to your own situation.
To better understand employee protections in your state, you may wish to speak to an experienced employee rights attorney who can provide an overview on your state’s applicable laws.
Our Featured Case Results
Hiring An Employee Rights Attorney For Wage And Overtime Violations
The first instinct of many employees who are denied or otherwise incorrectly paid is to contact the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL), which handles tens to hundreds of thousands of labor claims and lawsuits each year.
Unfortunately, the DoL division that handles these claims often receives more cases than they can handle and may not be able to fight for a settlement that is satisfactory based on your losses.
A private attorney, on the other hand, may be much better equipped with the time and resources necessary to advocate for a fair settlement and can give your case the personal attention it deserves.
The employment law attorneys of Florin|Roebig have an adept understanding of labor laws and serve as strong legal representatives for workers seeking due compensation from their employers.
Other benefits of hiring a fair labor attorney:
- Professional Connections: An attorney can consult with other labor and legal experts.
- Gather Evidence: An attorney can collect relevant evidence of the wage/overtime violation to support your claim.
- Satisfactory Settlement: A private attorney won’t accept a settlement that amounts to any less than your case deserves.
- Expertise: Attorneys who have experience in handling wage and overtime claims will be able to offer valuable expertise to help you recover your wages and more.
- Weigh Your Legal Options: An attorney can help you determine your best option for legal recourse, which might mean filing an individual or collective lawsuit against your employer, depending on the scope of the violation.
Wage Theft And Overtime Attorneys Serving The U.S.
With law offices in Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and Colorado, the wage and overtime attorneys of Florin|Roebig are able to serve clients out of several locations across the United States.
Our skilled team of attorneys has represented employees from a variety of backgrounds employed in small, medium, and large companies that have violated FLSA standards.
The wage and overtime attorneys of Florin|Roebig include:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
We Are Nationally Awarded Lawyers
Find An Unpaid Wage And Overtime Attorney Near You
At Florin|Roebig, our priority is the interests of workers, not the employers who believe they can get away with denying or withholding wages for their own personal gain.
If you’ve been denied due earnings by your employer, our attorneys can help you collect the compensation you deserve. By calling our office, we can schedule for you a free consultation with one of our top fair labor attorneys to discuss the details of your case.
Contact us today for legal advice, to learn how much your case may be worth, and to get started on filing an FLSA wage and overtime claim for compensation.