- Regulates wage and hour matters for non-exempt employees
- Establishes the standards for exempting employees from the wage and hour rules
- Sets forth rules for payroll recordkeeping
- Provides for compensation and damages for employees whose employers fail to comply with the wage and hour rules of the statute
While many employers subject to the FLSA comply with its rules, many others do not. Some employers violate the law due to innocent error. Other employers willingly violate the laws. No matter the reasons why an employer fails to comply with the FLSA, the result is that innocent employees are under-compensated for their hard work.
If you are an employee who had has your wage and hour rights under the FLSA violated by your employer, you need to contact an experienced Nashville wage and hour dispute lawyer. An attorney from the Employment and Consumer Law Group can review the circumstances of your claim and advise you as to whether you may have a legal claim for compensation and how to best pursue your claim.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
FLSA Minimum Wage & Overtime Rules
For non-exempt employees, the FLSA sets a minimum wage – which states may increase – and overtime rules. The FLSA applies to employees of an employer that is engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of good for commerce. There are certain statutory exceptions that an employer may claim from application of the FLSA. These are typically limited to those employers in industries already heavily regulated by federal law, such as the railroad industry or trucking industry.
Generally speaking, an employer that makes more than $500,000 in revenues will meet the commerce requirement. As a result, the FLSA applies to nearly all businesses across the country and affects millions of workers in Tennessee.
The FLSA sets a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as of 2019. The FLSA further requires employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime pay of one and a half times their regular rate of pay for every hour worked over 40 hours in any workweek. Tennessee follows these same laws.
Workers who generally earn tips can be paid a lower base salary, which under the FLSA and Tennessee law is $2.13 per hour as of 2019. It is expected that the employee’s tips will raise the worker’s average hourly wage to at least $7.25 per hour. This is called the employer’s “tip credit.”
If the employee’s earned tips don’t cause the employee to earn at least minimum wage, the employer cannot take the full tip credit and is obligated to pay the shortfall so that the employee never earns less than $7.25 per hour.
The employer is further required to pay all tips earned by the employee. However, the FLSA does permit employers to run a tip pool, in which employees chip in some or all of their tips that are then divided among the tipped employees.
However, the employer can only require employees to chip in those tips above that of the employer’s tip credit. So for example, if an employer takes a tip credit of $4 per hour and the employee earned $8 in tips per hour, the employee can only be made to chip in a maximum of $4 per hour into the tip pool.
Categories of Employees
The FLSA categorizes employees as either non-exempt or exempt. Non-exempt employees are subject to the wage and hour rules of the FLSA whereas exempt employees are not subject to those rules. Employees in certain kinds of industries are specifically listed as exempt from the FLSA. Otherwise, exempt employees will generally fall into one or more of three categories – executive employees, administrative employees, and professional employees.
For each of these three categories, an employee must be paid on a salary basis of at least $455 per week. Each category has a different duties test, which are:
- Executive employees – The exempt employee regularly supervises two or more employees and has management as their primary duty (with management involving tasks such as interviewing and selecting employees, maintaining production or sales, determining work techniques, assigning work to employees, planning budgets, monitoring legal and regulatory compliance, and ensuring safety and security of the workplace), and has genuine input into the job status (hiring, firing, promotion) of other employees.
- Administrative employees – The exempt employee performs office or nonmanual work that is directly related to the management of the general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customer, a primary component of which involves exercise of independent judgment or discretion over matters of significance.
- Professional employees – The exempt employee performs work of a traditional “learned profession” (such as a lawyer, doctor, dentist, registered nurse, teacher, architect, engineer, accountant, actuary, scientist, pharmacist, or other profession requiring “advanced knowledge,” or performs work of a “creative professional”(such as an artist, musician, composer, writer, cartoonist, or journalist).
The FLSA further includes certain other kinds of employees in the definition of an exempt employee, including certain computer professionals, outside sales staff, and “highly compensated” employees who earn annual salaries of $100,000 or more.
Common Examples of Wage and Hour Law Violations
Employers may violate the FLSA intentionally to shortchange their employees, or they may do so inadvertently due to a recordkeeping error, lack of knowledge of the requirements of the FLSA, or misunderstanding of the statute’s requirements.
No matter the reason for an employer’s violation of the FLSA, they should be held liable for their failure to pay their employees the wages they deserve. Some of the more common examples of wage and hour law violations include:
- Misclassifying employees as exempt to avoid paying overtime
- Misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor
- Failing to follow FLSA recordkeeping requirements
- Making impermissible deductions from paychecks that lower the employee’s hourly rate of pay below the minimum wage
- Paying tipped employees below minimum wage by failing to make up shortfalls in tips
- Failing to pay tipped employees their tips, or making employees participate in a tip pool beyond the employer’s tip credit
- Paying any employee below minimum wage
- Not paying earned overtime, or paying overtime at the incorrect rate (such as paying the employee’s regular hourly rate rather one and a half times the regular rate)
- Not paying for “off-the-clock” work, in particular, pre- and post-shift work and work performed during unpaid meals and breaks
If you believe you have not been fully paid for the work you have performed, you should speak with an experienced Nashville wage and hour attorney who can help you determine whether your employer owes you additional compensation.
What to Do If You’ve Been the Victim of Wage and Hour Law Violations
If you believe you have been the victim of wage and hour law violations, you should first contact your employer. In some cases, the violation may have been the result of an oversight or clerical error by your employer, who may be fully willing to provide you with the compensation you have missed out on.
You should also speak with an experienced wage and hour dispute attorney. In some cases, even if you and your employer want to settle your wage and hour dispute, the settlement will need to be approved by the Department of Labor or by a court to be enforceable upon both parties. In addition, a wage and hour lawyer can review the circumstances of your case and determine whether you may be entitled to other damages in addition to your claim for backpay.
If your employer denies violating wage and hour laws, having an experienced attorney to represent you is key to effectively pursuing a legal claim for the compensation that you are owed.
How Our Nashville Wage and Hour Dispute Lawyers Can Help
You know how hard you work for your paycheck. When your employer fails to pay you what you are owed under the FLSA and state law, it can feel like your employer is stealing from you.
If your employer has violated the FLSA and state wage and hour laws, they may be subject to an investigation from state regulators, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Labor. You may also have the right to file a legal claim against your employer for your unpaid wages and additional damages.
If you feel your employer has failed to pay you the full compensation you are owed for your work, you need a dedicated and knowledgeable Nashville wage and hour dispute lawyer.
Our Nashville wage and hour dispute lawyers from The Employment and Consumer Law Group are ready to review your situation. If you are owed additional pay, we will diligently pursue your claim for compensation from your employer. We will follow through on your administrative remedies or, if necessary, pursue your claim in court to get you the backpay, front pay, and damages you are entitled to under the FLSA.
Contact our legal team today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case in further detail. We can inform you of your legal rights and options and explain how our legal team can help you seek the compensation you’ve earned and deserve.