What Is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

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Fair Labor Standards Act

If you want to make sure your employer is treating you properly, one of the first places you should look is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). FLSA sets the minimum wage and hour requirements for many employers across the United States. Employers that fail to comply are subject to pay damages and penalties to mistreated employees. If you have an FLSA claim against your boss, you can make the most of it by hiring a skilled attorney to advocate for you. At Smithey Law Group LLC, our attorneys are highly knowledgeable and prepared to resolve whatever dispute you have with your employer.

What Are My Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act?

FLSA is a federal law that determines how much your employer must pay you (at a minimum) if you are a non-exempt employee. The law also regulates an employer’s recordkeeping and working conditions for minors.

Wage and Hour Laws

Under FLSA, the minimum wage that all non-exempt employees should be paid is $7.25 per hour for working up to 40 hours in a workweek. If a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours in a week, they must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay (whatever that is) for any working time in excess of 40 hours.

If your state demands that employers pay a higher minimum wage than what FLSA requires, you must receive the state’s rate. In Maryland, employers with 14 or fewer employees must pay at least $12.80 per hour, and employers with 15 or more employees must pay at least $13.25 per hour. These state minimum wage rates are set to increase in 2024 to $13.40 per hour for employers with smaller workforces and $14.00 per hour for employers with larger workforces.

Recordkeeping Laws

Sometimes, an employer can hide wage and hour violations by withholding information from an employee about the hours they have worked and how their pay was calculated with each check. With tax withholdings, benefit withholdings, and long working hours, it can be challenging to assess how much your paycheck should be. The Fair Labor Standards Act combats this confusion by requiring employers to maintain the following information regarding each non-exempt employee:

  • The employee’s identifying information (e.g., Social Security number, address, full name, birth date, etc.),
  • The employee’s occupation,
  • The employee’s regular hourly pay rate,
  • How the employee’s wages are paid (e.g., hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, piecework, etc.),
  • When the employee’s workweek starts (time and day),
  • The amount of time the employee worked each day,
  • The amount of time the employee worked in each workweek,
  • The employee’s total non-overtime earnings for each day or workweek,
  • The employee’s total overtime earnings for each workweek,
  • The total wages paid for each pay period,
  • All additions to and deductions from an employee’s pay, and
  • The dates of each pay period that is covered by a paycheck.

Employers must keep their payroll records for at least three years, and they must keep employee schedules and time records for at least two years.

Am I Entitled to Breaks?

Unless you are a nursing mother, FLSA does not require your employer to provide you with meal breaks or rest breaks. And employers do not have an obligation under Maryland law to provide meal breaks or rest breaks to employees who are 18 or older or work in certain retail establishments. However, if your employer allows you to take short breaks that last between 5 and 20 minutes, it must pay you for that break time.

Do Wage and Hour Requirements Under the Fair Labor Standards Act Apply to All Employees?

FLSA standards for minimum wage and overtime pay apply only to non-exempt employees. So, who are the exempt employees under these laws?

Exempt employees who are not entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay include:

  • Executives;
  • Professionals;
  • Administrators;
  • Babysitters;
  • Certain seasonal amusement or recreational employees;
  • Live-in domestic workers;
  • Certain employees in motion picture or broadcasting positions;
  • Many employees in transportation;
  • Agricultural workers;
  • Certain employees who work on commission;
  • Outside salespeople; and
  • Certain employees who perform computer-related work.

The above positions might be exempt from minimum wage rules, overtime rules, or both. Also, whether an exemption applies to you does not depend on your job title but rather on your job duties. If you suspect that you are not receiving proper payment, do not depend on your employer’s word regarding an exemption. Speak to a knowledgeable attorney about the details of your work and pay.

Initiating a Legal Action Against Wage and Hour Violations

If your employer fails to comply with state or federal laws regarding minimum wage or overtime pay, you can file a complaint with the government or a lawsuit in court. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor handles FLSA complaints. And the Employment Standards Service of the Maryland Department of Labor handles claims regarding violations of state wage and hour laws. Depending on the nature of the violation, your employer might also be subject to criminal liability for its failure to pay you properly.

In a successful claim against a wage or hour violation, you can recover the unlawfully withheld wages. You might also be entitled to recover three times the amount of unlawfully withheld wages. To help ensure that you timely and properly assert your rights to payment, immediately speak to an experienced wage and hour attorney about your legal options.

Our Wage and Hour Attorneys Can Hold Your Employer Accountable

You work hard, and you deserve to receive everything your labor is worth. If your employer cannot respect the value of your work, you have a right to complain. Smithey Law Group offers great advocates when you need to confront an employer about its failure to comply with wage and hour laws. We are leaders in the employment law community, and we exclusively focus on resolving employment disputes.

We can help ensure that you recover every penny you have earned and then some. Please call us at 410-881-8572 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Author Photo
Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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