The FLSA provides a baseline minimum wage that employers are required to pay their employees and requires employers to pay certain employees additional overtime pay if those employees work more than full-time, or 40 hours, during a given workweek. The goal of the FLSA is to ensure that workers are not paid an intolerably low wage.
If you have not been paid at least a minimum wage rate or overtime, you should speak to a FLSA attorney to discuss your rights.
Who Does the FLSA Protect?
The FLSA protects all workers by requiring every employee to be paid at least minimum wage, which the FLSA set at $7.25 per hour as of 2019. Any worker who qualifies under the law is entitled to be paid at least $7.25 per hour for their work. The FLSA also protects certain employees by requiring that they are paid additional wages for any overtime they work.
The FLSA defines overtime as any hours over 40 hours worked in any workweek. The FLSA requires eligible employees to be paid one and a half times their base rate of pay for each hour of overtime. An employee making minimum wage under the FLSA is entitled to be paid an hourly wage of $10.87 for each hour of overtime work.
However, not every employee is entitled to minimum wage and other protections of the FLSA. These employees are considered “exempt” employees. An employee qualifies as an exempt employee under the FLSA if they work in a specifically listed industry that is otherwise regulated by federal law, such as the railroad or trucking industries. Employees may also qualify as exempt if they fall into one of three categories:
- Executive employees – Includes managerial and supervisory employees who oversee other employees and make decisions about the company’s operations, such as personnel decisions, workflow, and budgetary decisions.
- Administrative employees – Includes employees who perform non-manual office work that supports the employer’s business and requires the exercise of the employee’s judgment and discretion.
- Professional employees – Includes employees of various learned professions such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, or engineers, or creative professions such as actors, musicians, writers, illustrators, or journalists.
Finally, the FLSA also exempts “highly-compensated” employees who make more than $100,000 in annual salary.
Common Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
There are many ways that an employer can violate the FLSA. In some cases, the employer has made a good faith error concerning the complex laws. In other cases, an employer may be maliciously underpaying its employees.
Examples of some common ways that employers violate the FLSA include:
- Improperly classifying employees as exempt – Some employers may assign employees a title to classify them as FLSA-exempt when those employees’ duties do not qualify them under any of the exempt categories.
- Failing to pay hourly workers for all hours worked – Employers’ time-clock or payroll systems may automatically clock out employees who are still working.
- Permitting or requiring “off the clock” work – Employers may allow or require employees to perform work off the clock, such as working during an employee’s unpaid mealtime or break or answering emails on nights and weekends.
- Failing to calculate an employee’s regular rate of pay for overtime purposes – Employers may fail to include all the factors for determining a regular rate of pay, such as salary, an hourly rate of pay, tips, commission, non-discretionary bonuses, or on-call pay.
- Making improper deductions from paychecks – Employers may not make deductions from a non-exempt employee’s paycheck if the deduction would result in the employee effectively being paid less than minimum wage for that pay period. Employers must also pay salaried employees their full salary, and can only deduct for full-day absences not related to illness or disability, to offset pay for jury duty or military service, for penalties for infractions of safety rules, for unpaid disciplinary suspensions for workplace misconduct, or for the employee’s first or last week of employment if the employee does not work the full week.
- Failing to keep records – The FLSA requires employers to keep payroll records for at least three years, which must include total hours works each day and workweek, total daily and workweek earning, total overtime pay per workweek, deductions from wages, total wages paid each pay period. Copies of time cards and work schedules must be kept for at least two years.
Damages in FLSA Lawsuits
If you are successful in a FLSA lawsuit, you are generally awarded the back pay that you should have received under the FLSA rules. A court may also award you “liquidated damages,” which is a doubling of the unpaid back pay you receive that is awarded in lieu of interest and other expenses. Liquidated damages are considered to be the rule rather than the exception in FLSA lawsuits.
An employer can avoid liquidated damages only if it can show that its failure to pay the awarded back pay was a good faith error. Passiveness or ignorance of FLSA requirements does not meet the good faith requirement. Instead, an employer must show some sort of affirmative act, such as reliance on the opinion of legal counsel.
How an FLSA Lawyer Can Help
If you believe you are owed additional pay under the rules of the FLSA, the dedicated and experienced Nashville employment attorneys of The Employment and Consumer Law Group can help you fight to get the compensation that you’ve earned.
Our legal team can review your case to determine what you should have been paid under FLSA rules. If you are owed back pay, our legal team can file an administrative complaint on your behalf and work with your employer and government regulators to seek the compensation you deserve. If necessary, our FLSA legal team can help you pursue your back pay claim in court to seek the wages you’ve been shorted along with any liquidated damages you are entitled to under the FLSA.
Don’t wait one more day to start fighting for the compensation you’ve earned. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options and how an FLSA lawyer can help you successfully pursue your FLSA claim.