Fair Labor Standards Act FAQs

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law in 1938 to establish a federal minimum wage, as well as regulations for overtime pay, recordkeeping and youth employment. FLSA does not cover all businesses or all workers, but those workers under the law are entitled to one and a half times their standard wage for overtime hours, break time for nursing mothers, family and medical leave, and other benefits. DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin, LLC is determined to see that all eligible workers get the full benefit of FLSA protections. So that you may better know your rights, we offer this list of frequently asked questions and answers.

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Attorneys at DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin, LLC have more than 200 years of combined experience in state and federal employment law. We are available to assist you with issues related to The Fair Labor Standards Act. To schedule a free consultation, call our Atlanta office at 470-443-0524 or contact us online.

What employees are subject to the FLSA?

Generally speaking, FLSA covers “blue collar” workers who earn a wage (i.e. are paid on an hourly rate), but not “white collar” workers who earn a set salary in excess of $684 per week or receive the bulk of their compensation through sales commissions. Workers are exempt (not covered by overtime laws) if they fit into one of several categories: executive, administrative, professional, computer employee, outside sales, and highly-compensated. Each category has a “duties test” which a worker must pass to be exempt from overtime. If an employer designates a worker as an administrator, but that worker does not perform administrative duties, that worker may not be exempt from the overtime requirement.

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When is an employee entitled to overtime?

A nonexempt employee is entitled to overtime whenever he or she has worked more than 40 hours within a week, calculated as a continuous 168 hour period. FLSA does not have a daily overtime limit for workers who exceed eight hours in a day, nor does the state of Georgia have such a law.

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Can an employer require an adult worker to work overtime?

FLSA does not prohibit employers from requiring overtime for workers over 16 years of age. It only requires that employers pay the required overtime rate to nonexempt employees. However, many exempt employees (who do not get overtime pay) have filed and won lawsuits based on employers’ unfair mandatory overtime policies.

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Does an employer have to pay overtime for work performed on weekends or holidays?

FLSA does not require overtime for special days, but many collective bargaining agreements contain such benefits. It’s important to distinguish legal rights under FLSA that cover all nonexempt workers, from benefits that individual unions have secured for their membership through collective bargaining.

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Can an employer deduct funds from a nonexempt employee’s paycheck for cash or merchandise shortages or uniform costs?

The FLSA considers the cost of required uniforms to be a business expense of the employer. However, employers can require workers to bear the purchase and maintenance costs, provided this does not reduce the worker’s wage below the federal minimum wage. This same rule applies to reimbursement for other losses, such as merchandise spoliation and cash register shortages.

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What remedies are available to an employee who has not received wages to which he or she was entitled under the FLSA?

The enforcement provisions within the FLSA allow employees to recover back wages plus an equal amount for liquidated damages, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs. Effectively, this allows an employee to receive twice what the employer owes without incurring legal expenses.

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