No person should have to work without full and fair compensation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that employers must pay eligible employees a minimum wage and overtime pay. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. The overtime provision requires that employees be paid at a rate of one and half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
Are you covered under the FLSA?
To be covered under the FLSA, you must be an eligible employee. Depending on the nature of your work and your relationship with the company, you may be either an employee or independent contractor. An independent contractor is not an employee. For example, if the company directs and controls your work duties, schedule, and pay, then you should be classified as an employee. On the other hand, if you control your work and how it will be done, then you would probably be considered an independent contractor.
Misclassified employees are often denied access to critical benefits and protections they are entitled to by law. If your employer inaccurately labeled you as an independent contractor, it is likely in an attempt to avoid paying you minimum wage or overtime pay. The distinction between an employee and independent contractor is also important because if you are an employee, then your employer is responsible to withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes, and unemployment tax on your wages. Finally, another benefit that you likely would not receive as an independent contractor are company benefits, such as FMLA leave, health insurance, life insurance, and paid time off.
There are some FLSA exemptions for certain types of businesses and employees, such as executive, administrative, and professional employees. Therefore, those exempt employees would not be entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay.
However, if you are in a role with the job title as “manager” or “coordinator,” but you do not actually perform managerial duties, then your employer may be trying to avoid the FLSA wage and overtime obligations. In that scenario, despite your job title, you should still be covered under the FLSA.
The FLSA exemptions are narrowly defined, so it is best to consult with an employment lawyer to determine whether or not you are truly exempt under the law.
So, you’re eligible… now what?
Your employer should pay you for all of the time that you worked. Keep diligent records of your timecards, hours, and expected wages and make sure to review each of your paychecks for accuracy. You should verify that your hours have not been reduced or altered.
Your employer should not be shaving off your hours to get you under a 40-hour workweek. Likewise, your employer cannot force you to work off-the-clock or to work through your breaks. If your employer is doing any of these things, then you are being cheated out of your wages.
Fortunately, the FLSA is one of the more employee-friendly laws and allows you two years to bring a claim, unless your employer’s conduct was willful, in which case, you will have three years to bring a claim. That means you can recover your back wages and unpaid overtime for the prior two years—and possibly up to three years.
Furthermore, if your FLSA rights have been violated, it is likely that your coworkers are in the same boat. In that case, you may be able to file a collective action together, which will strengthen your case.
The FLSA makes it illegal for your employer to fire, demote, or discriminate against you in any way for asking about any discrepancies in your pay or for asking about your employee classification or for making a complaint about unpaid wages or overtime pay.
It is understandable to be concerned about retaliation by your employer if you take action to protect your rights. But you do not have to do it alone. We are here for you.
Because your work matters.