What happens when an employer fails to pay its employees the federal or state required minimum wage? Or what if an employee has been working more than 40 hours a week, but has not been paid time and a half for working overtime? In the case of employers failing to meet these sorts of standards for compensating employees for their work, the employer is in violation of a federal statute called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
What is the FLSA?
The FLSA was signed into law in 1938 to establish fairness in labor standards. The FLSA was a response to employers taking advantage of workers desperate for employment during the Great Depression. In order to remedy the situation, the FLSA set certain rules for employers. This law was the origin of the 40-hour workweek, the federal minimum wage, extra pay for overtime work, and restrictions for child labor.
Over time, the law has been amended and it now includes some additional provisions, such as one mandating equal pay for men and women.
Do all employers have to follow the FLSA?
The FLSA does not cover all employers, but it does cover most. In order to be required to comply with the FLSA, a company must have annual sales that amount to a minimum of $500,000, or the employer must engage in interstate commerce. Because the requirement of interstate commerce has been interpreted broadly by courts, there are very few places of business that are not subject to the FLSA.
Are all employees covered by the protections of the FLSA?
There are several classes of employees exempt from the FLSA, including executives, administrators, certain professionals, or highly compensated employees who earn more than $100,000 a year. There are requirements for each of these categories, and they usually apply to salaried positions. Other professions that are exempt include caregivers for the elderly and certain airline employees.
What constitutes a violation of the FLSA?
Claims of violations of the FLSA include employees making less than the state or federal minimum wage, employees not being compensated with time and a half pay for overtime, and employees being requested to work when they are not “on the clock.”
There are also times when a wage or hour case arises from a violation resulting from an employer improperly misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor. In this scenario, the individual would not be benefitting from the protections employees receive, such as unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation.
Wage and Hour Class Action Suits
Often times a wage and hour suit might not be worth a great sum of money, although it is enough for the aggrieved employee to be negatively impacted. In order to minimize the costs of litigation on an individual, sometimes a class of employees who have all faced similar violations from the same employer might file a class action suit. These cases work as class action suits because the facts and law applying to each individual’s case are very similar.
Some high profile cases in this category have included a suit filed against the Bank of America for violations of the FLSA, such as requiring employees to work when they were off the clock, and a suit filed against AT&T for failing to pay overtime wages.
What can I expect to recover if my employer acted in violation of the FLSA or a related law?
If your employer is found in violation of the FLSA or a state minimum wage or labor law, they will be required to pay back pay for the times they were in violation of the law.
Employers who violate the FLSA can also be subject to fines for each violation.
What should I do if I believe I have a wage and hour case against my employer?
You can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. In the event your employer is in violation of a state law as well, you may want to also file a complaint with a state agency.
Since the statute of limitations for FLSA is two years, or three years in the event of a willful violation by an employer, you should file your claim as soon as possible to prevent it from being barred.
You should also reach out to an employment lawyer who will be able to help ensure your rights are being protected, and aid you in seeking compensation.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you to find the best solution to your employment law related legal issues. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced employment attorney.