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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides a private cause of action for lost wages for most workers in the United States, including all Ohio employees. It provides a minimum wage for employees and sets a standard for overtime pay. It is located in 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. The Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) makes available the full text of the FLSA and also publishes a Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The FLSA, combined with the DOL regulations enforcing it, and the case law interpreting it, is much too complicated to discuss in a single section. But, as an introduction to the statute, it is helpful to remember the purpose of the FLSA, as described in section 202(a). The statute states, in pertinent part, that
“Congress finds…in industries engaged in commerce or in the production of goods…labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers.”
It continues by stating that these sub-minimum standards “lead[ ] to labor disputes burdening and obstructing commerce[.]” 29 U.S.C. § 202(a)(4).
The FLSA does not protect every worker in the U.S. The act states that it covers all employees of enterprises that have workers who are engaged in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling or otherwise working on goods and materials that are involved in such commerce. It applies to enterprises that have an annual gross volume of sales made or business done of at least $500,000.
It is important to note that the FLSA only protects those who have an employment relationship with their employer – this means employees, not independent contractors. An independent contractor is someone who is self-employed and works for someone through a work performance agreement or contract as a non-employee. Some employers intentionally misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them wages and benefits due under the FLSA.
Misclassification is one of the most common ways an employee’s rights under the FLSA are violated. An employer may misclassify you as an FLSA-exempt employee or as an independent contractor to wrongly deny your rights to overtime pay and other protections. In addition to misclassification, there are numerous other ways in which an employer can violate a worker’s FLSA rights, such as:
An employer in Ohio may carelessly breach the FLSA, or do so intentionally in an attempt to save money. Either way, the employer can face penalties and repercussions for failing to fulfill its responsibilities under federal law. This includes having to pay everything that the employer owes the affected employee in unpaid compensation or back pay, plus interest and penalties, in some situations.
You have legal options if your employer infringed upon the rights given to you by the Fair Labor Standards Act. With help from an attorney, you can file a lawsuit against your employer for the violation of your rights to pursue financial compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages. Filing a claim can hold your employer responsible, confirm your rights in court and repay you for your wages lost. If you think your rights under the FLSA have been violated, contact Scott & Winters Law Firm, LLC to learn more about your rights and how we can help.