This is the first installment of The Fraud List: Fair Labor Series
There’s no doubt that the United States would not be the country it is today without the laws created by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Sadly, many foreign countries still allow businesses to employ child labor, pay unfair wages for extended amounts of work and even refuse medical bills from injuries sustained while on the job. In the United States, in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into action the beginnings of the FLSA, and thus, changed the course of the American workforce forever.
The FLSA has put into place a number of measures Americans take for granted today: a national minimum wage, guaranteed time and a half for overtime in certain jobs, workplace safety standards, record keeping, and equal pay for equal work. As one might tell, the FLSA covers a wide range of employment laws that have been debated and refined by lawmakers and citizens for decades.
There are exceptions that exist within the FLSA. Some of these exemptions relieve the employer from having to meet the statutory minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping requirements. The largest encompasses executive exemptions that apply to professional, administrative and executive employees. For example, any individual employed by as an independent contractor or who is a volunteer is not covered by the FLSA since he or she is not considered an “employee.”
An employer cannot simply exempt workers from the FLSA by calling them independent contractors. However, that doesn’t stop large corporations and even small businesses from attempting to misclassify their employees to avoid paying overtime and thus improving profits. Attorneys who work in the field of employment law often handle cases such as these, and other issues that arise as a result of either intentional or unintentional violations of the FLSA.
While the FLSA may appear to disempower companies, the laws were partly responsible for getting the U.S. out of the Great Depression and back on track to becoming the great nation it is today. Many believe that tuning up the FLSA to meet the needs of today’s world may be the answer to our nation’s current economic issues. We will address some of those proposed updates in future stories in this series.
Regardless, the FLSA has been responsible for protecting millions of Americans each and every day and giving them the possibility of working for a better tomorrow. For more information on the provisions of the FLSA, visit the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division website at www.dol.gov/WHD/flsa/index.htm.
Each Thursday we will examine a topic of employment law. This is a complex area of law that covers federal and state statues, as well as administrative issues and judicial precedents. Next week, our topic will be The Minimum Wage and Proposed FLSA Overtime Reform. To be informed of the latest post in this series, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ by searching for #TheFraudList.