Curious about your rights as a worker? Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a great place to start learning. In this blog, the Employment and Consumer Law Group attorneys discuss the FLSA and address some of our most frequently asked questions about how the FLSA protects you in the workplace.
What is the FLSA?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted in 1938 to introduce federal wage and employment standards throughout the United States. The FLSA establishes a federal minimum wage, entitles certain employees to overtime pay, and places restrictions on the employment of minors.
The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor is responsible for FLSA compliance and enforcement. Employees can suffer significant financial losses when their employers violate FLSA regulations, and workers can file an FLSA claim when violations occur. Since Tennessee lacks its own wage and employment laws, the FLSA often provides the strongest protections for Tennessee employees whose rights are violated.
Am I entitled to FLSA overtime pay based on my employment contract?
Some employment contracts may promise workers overtime pay based on some non-standard criteria, such as working more than eight hours per day. However, overtime has a precise and limited definition under the FLSA. The act only legally requires your employer to pay you one and one-half a worker’s standard hourly rate, or “time and a half.”
If your employer pays you more than time and a half or provides overtime pay even though you haven’t worked 40 hours per week, consider it a benefit. But if your employer refuses to provide overtime pay even though they promised it in your employment contract, you do not have grounds for an FLSA claim.
Is my employer required to pay me overtime?
Most employers in both public and private sectors must provide overtime as prescribed by the FLSA when employees work more than 40 hours in one workweek. Under the FLSA, the minimum overtime rate is one and one-half a worker’s standard hourly rate.
However, certain employees are subject to FLSA exemptions based on their job duties. Exempt workers include professional, executive, administrative, and outside sales employees. If you believe you may have been underpaid because you were wrongfully classified as an exempt employee, an employment law attorney can help you file a claim to recover the wages you deserve.
Should I be paid overtime for holiday or weekend work?
Not necessarily. Some employers may provide additional compensation for holiday or weekend work, but it is not required under either the FLSA or Tennessee law.
I have not received the wages I am entitled to. What should I do?
If you know or suspect you have been underpaid for your labor, you have the right to file a complaint with the WHD. You typically have two years to file unless you prove your employer intentionally violated the FLSA. In those cases, the deadline extends to three years.
If the WHD determines you are entitled to back pay, it can:
- Direct your employer to provide the back pay you deserve
- File a lawsuit for back pay and other compensation on your behalf
- File an injunction restraining your employer from additional FLSA violations
You cannot file a lawsuit on your own if the WHD has already facilitated repayment of your back wages or filed a suit on your behalf.
Contact a Tennessee FLSA Lawyer for Help
The Tennessee FLSA lawyers at the Employment and Consumer Law Group stand up for the rights of workers exploited by unfair and unlawful employment practices. Let us help you navigate this complicated area of law and determine your legal options. Call or contact us today for a free initial consultation.