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The Fair Labor Standards Act

American workers in the early part of the last century enjoyed little protection from unscrupulous and unfair work practices. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly one-fifth of all members of the workforce were children and many workers routinely worked in excess of 60 hours each week for exceedingly low pay. Fortunately, with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, these practices largely came to an end.

Nearly 80 years later, the law remains viable and routinely enforced. However, many employees are unaware of the wide-ranging scope of protections afforded to them by the FLSA. The statute can be invoked in response to a variety of offenses, including:

  • Misclassification as an independent contractor: Employers are required to pay and withhold taxes for their employees but are under no such obligation with regard to independent contractors. Accordingly, many employers have a financial incentive to misclassify members of their workforce. An employee who believes they have been misclassified as an independent contractor may bring a lawsuit for violations of the FLSA.
  • Underpayment: All employers are bound by federal and state minimum wage laws. Employers must ensure that all workers are paid at least this amount, including those who are paid primarily in tips, such as restaurant workers. When a tipped worker fails earn an average of the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference.
  • Failure to pay overtime: Non-salaried employees who perform more than 40 hours per week must be paid for their time at a rate not less than time-and-a-half their normal hourly rate. The federal government defines the work week as any fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, or seven consecutive 24-hour periods.
  • Missed paydays: An employer is required under the FLSA to maintain a regular pay schedule and to meet its obligations each and every payday.
  • Charging for breaks: The laws regarding meal and rest breaks are complex and vary from state to state. The FLSA does not guarantee a lunch or coffee break for workers, but the statute does bar employers from forcing employees to exclude short breaks of less than 20 minutes when accounting for their hours worked. Accordingly, break time may not be factored in by employers when making a determination of overtime eligibility.
  • Reimbursement of employment-related expenses: Employers must pay wages that meet the minimum wage rate free and clear, without conditions. When an employer underpays their employees for certain expenses, such as paying delivery drivers a flat fee that does not meet the federal mileage reimbursement, and that expense in turn dips an employee’s hourly rate below the federal minimum, it can form the basis of an FLSA action.

FLSA protections do not apply to salaried managers and executives, who are considered exempt from wage and hour laws. However, misclassifying an employee as exempt to avoid paying overtime is a violation of the FLSA. Moreover, the FLSA offers protection from retaliation by an employer. A worker cannot be terminated or punished for bringing to light a potential FLSA violation.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Pursue FLSA Wage and Hour Claims

Squaring off against an employer is understandably intimidating. Until an employee is willing to assert his or her rights under the FLSA, their employer has no motivation to change. If you believe that your employer has violated the FLSA the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. will investigate your claim. Call 215-569-1999 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Philadelphia office, where we represent clients throughout Philadelphia and New Jersey.

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