Fair Labor Standards Act

employment lawyer tennesseeSince the 1930s, the federal government has put in place a series of legal protections for workers including, minimum wage standards, overtime pay and child labor protection laws.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and protects employee wages and labor conditions. The FLSA applies when employers are failing to pay minimum wage, failing to pay overtime, and/or failing to compensate employees for all of the hours they work.

Employers who fail to legally compensate their employees can be forced to pay all of the back pay that they owe to their workers.

An employer who violates the FLSA is committing fraud and stealing from their employees and their families.

If you know that you are not being paid for all of your hours or that you are being paid less than minimum wage and/or your employer refuses to authorize the overtime pay you have earned you need an attorney. 

Call Greg Coleman Law labor attorneys at (865) 247-0080 today.

What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a law that establishes standards for minimum wages, overtime pay and labor conditions. Most Americans are covered by the FLSA. The law was passed on October 24, 1938 and is one of the most important employment laws in America.

With very few exceptions, the FLSA applies to most employers. When the FLSA does apply, an employer who fails to pay minimum wage, or who fails to compensate employees for all of the hours that they work or denies them overtime pay can be sued.


Not all workers are covered by the FLSA. There are two primary factors that determine whether an employee is exempt. An employee is exempt as long as the position:

1) Meets salary requirements

2) Job duties requirements

The usual salary minimum is $455/week but this is not true for all employees. The usual duty requirements include having the opportunity to manage and supervise others and/or exercise independent judgment on important work matters.

Because the criteria for determining who qualifies for overtime pay and who does not, it is important that employees consult with an experienced labor attorney.

Common Wage Violations

Overtime Pay

Employers are required to pay employees who work more than 40 hours a week overtime pay. Overtime pay must be paid at time and one-half the regular hourly rate. If an employee is salaried, the employer must convert their salary to an hourly rate to determine their overtime pay.

Overtime pay should not need to be requested. Employers should automatically pay at that rate when their employees work more than 40 hours a week.

Compensable Time

Employers are required to pay employees for putting on uniforms, using protective gear, performing inventory, setting up and/or cleaning up their work environments.

Many of these activities may occur before and after the actual duties, but under the labor laws, they may be considered compensable time because the extra time is related to an employees job duties.

Unpaid Vacation Time

If an employer provides vacation time, any time that has been accrued is due to the employee if they quit or are fired. Employers who fail to pay employees their unpaid vacation time may be in violation of the FLSA.

Compensatory Time Instead of Overtime Pay

Compensatory time is paid time off given to an employee instead of overtime wages. While compensatory time off is legal, employers are still required to provide the time off at the same rate as the overtime wages.

Improper Time Tracking

Employers who have written policies about overtime requiring authorization and permit employees to still work overtime and fail to compensate them may be in violation of the FLSA.

Violations of the labor laws can occur in a variety of industries and in many different positions, including:

  • Construction
  • Restaurant
  • Security guard
  • Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehouse
  • Nursing care
  • Hotel
  • Day care

Your employer may be violating federal and state labor laws and you may be entitled to financial compensation.

If you suspect that you are not appropriately compensated, consult with an experienced employment law attorney at Greg Coleman Law.

How Do I File A Fair Labor Standards Act Lawsuit?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labors Wage-Hour Division. There are special investigators who conduct research on wages and other employment conditions across the United States.

While employees can file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Labor and hope that the agency pursues the case on their behalf, many employees select to retain an attorney and file a lawsuit directly in federal court.

Collective Action

A collective action in FLSA occurs when employees collectively sign onto a labor violation lawsuit that brings a state or federal lawsuit on behalf of many employees. In these types of cases, the employees must be deprived of wages due to a common company regulation or policy.  

Time Limitations

There are very strict time limits that govern when a lawsuit disputing wage compensation can be filed. Under federal law, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of an employers violation. In some egregious cases, this time limit may be extended to three years.

It is vital that employees who believe they may have a claim speak with an attorney as soon as possible in order to preserve all of their legal claims.

Employer Retaliation

Note that you do not need to fear for you job if you decide to pursue a legal claim to recover monies that you believe are owed to you. The law prohibits your employer from firing you in retaliation for filing an individual complaint or for participating in a collective action process.

Criminal Penalties

The government can and does conduct investigations to evaluate wage and labor violations independently of an employees claims.

In cases where the government decides that an employer willfully violated the labor laws, the employer may be subject to criminal prosecution that carries a fine of $10,000 on the first conviction and additional fines a possible prison sentence on second or third convictions.

Because of the complicated nature of these cases, employees who hire an attorney increase the likelihood that they will be able to hold their fraudulent employers responsible and get their money.

What Do I Get If I Win?

There are many financial remedies that are available to employees when employers are found in violation of the FLSA. Depending on the specific circumstances of the violation, an employer may be required to:

  • Pay the difference between the wages provided and the federal minimum wage required
  • Pay any and all unpaid overtime wages
  • Pay attorneys fees
  • Provide employment if fired
  • Provide a promotion
  • Pay for wages lost during illegal termination

In many cases, employees can get all of the wages that they would have been entitled to going back two years from the date that the legal complaint is filed.

Additionally, employees may be awarded double the amount of back pay owed in a process called liquidated damages to make up for the interest that accrued on unpaid wages. All of the money that is recovered in an FLSA case is considered taxable income.

Only an experienced labor violations employment law attorney can successfully walk you through the process of asserting your rights to the money you have earned.

Greg Coleman Law Holding Employers Accountable Tennessee Labor Lawyers

At Greg Coleman Law, the firms employment law attorneys have been defending the rights of workers against unscrupulous employers for decades. The firm handles these cases on a contingency fee basis, and we get paid only if we successfully recover your back wages.  

If you believe that your employer is failing to compensate for all of the hours you work, act immediately to get the financial compensation you and your family deserve.

If your employer is taking advantage of you and violating the law, call us at (865) 247-0080 immediately. You can also send us an email using our Free Case Evaluation form.