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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal statute that protects the rights of employees in the private sector as well as federal, state, and local governments. It has several provisions establishing the national minimum wage, overtime pay of time and a half after 40 hours of work per week, youth employment standards, and laws against child labor. Certain “white collar” exceptions to these provisions are available for executive, administrative, and professional employees. The FLSA does not apply to independent contractors and volunteers as they do not meet the definition of employees under the Act. However, courts ensure that employees are not misclassified in order to evade the FLSA provision by looking at the “economic reality” of the employer and the employee. Often disputes related to overtime and pay arise leading to the Act being evoked. Below are some of the top questions on FLSA answered by Legal Experts.

What are my privileges under the FLSA for taking leave from work?

Leave policies do not fall under the provision of the FLSA, which deals mostly with the hours you work and compensation for your work. However, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles any eligible employee up to 12 weeks of leave for any serious medical condition, birth of a child, adoption or placing a child in foster care, or to take care of the spouse or an immediate family member. Employees are entitled to any pre-existing group health coverage during such period. The employer is obliged to reinstate the employee at the end of the leave period to the same or equivalent position, pay, employment benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

FLSA applies only to public entities with 50 or more employees. Is this true?

While the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) applies to all public agencies, organizations and government entities with over 50 employees fall under the (FMLA) Family Medical Leave Act. The FLSA does not apply to these organizations.

What are the laws for salary payment under FLSA vs. the FMLA?

Both the FLSA and the FMLA deal with different situations. Under the FLSA, you need to compensate an employee only for the time actually worked. Unless there is a contract to the contrary, you are not obliged to pay an employee for the time that he/she is absent from work. However, under the FMLA, an employee is entitled to medical leave for a stipulated period. Again, depending on the contract, you are not obliged to pay the employee for that leave.

I was fired for refusing to work overtime without pay as per the FLSA.

Under the FLSA, an employer may not fire you for asserting your rights. In such a situation, you may file an FLSA retaliation claim. Typically, this claim allows you actual and punitive damages as well as reasonable court and attorney fees.

Though the retaliation claim may be filed from anywhere, you would want to file it in the state you were fired in lest you face a forum non-convenience motion or a change of venue motion. Depending on circumstances and the evidence you are able to produce, you may also file a case for discriminatory practices under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In any case, you may have to ensure that all communication between you and your employer is well-documented in order for you to use it as evidence. The most sensible option would be to speak to a local attorney to understand your rights and obligations, and the process for filing such cases.

As a bus driver for the county, I am only paid for the time I drive the bus — which is 3 to 4 hours — though I am on-call and in possession of the vehicle for practically the entire day. What are my rights under the FLSA?

The FLSA defines work as any act that benefits the employer. Simple possession of the bus or the company phone, and being on-call does not fall under the definition of compensable employment. For example, if part of your job is to answer calls on the company phone you possess, you can seek compensation if you are entitled to the FLSA provisions. You are eligible for the FLSA under two conditions: either you are working for 40 hours or more each week or the number of hours worked divided by your pay results in an hourly rate that falls below the minimum wages.

The FLSA is enforced and administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) with respect to state and local government employment, and federal employees of the Library of Congress U.S. Postal Service, Postal Rate Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority and private employment. For all employees of executive branch agencies it is enforced by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and the U.S. Congress for covered employees of the Legislative Branch. If you wish to learn more about your rights under the FLSA, you may want to write to Legal Experts for guidance.
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