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Tennessee Employment Law Center Tennessee Employment Law Center
Tennessee Employment Law Center
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Discrimination...
Gender Discrimination
National Origin Discrimination
Pregnancy Discrimination
Race and Color Discrimination
Religious Discrimination
Sexual Harassment
 
...and the Law
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
Employment at Will
Equal Pay Act
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Insurance Benefits on Termination and Resignation (COBRA)
Mine Safety and Health Act (MSHA)
Non-Compete Agreements
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
Rehabilitation Act of 1974 (Rehab Act)
Unemployment Benefits
Uniformed Services Employment & Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA)
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)
Workers' Compensation (Workers' Comp)

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): Wage and Hour Laws

Federal law establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping and child labor standards for nearly all American workers, including those in the private sector and those in federal, state and local government jobs.  Please see OvertimePayLaw.us and OvertimeScams.us for more detailed information about the FLSA.

Minimum Wage Law

Rule:

  • Federal law requires a minimum wage of $5.15 per hour for all employees of companies subject to the law.

Exceptions/Exemptions Specific to Minimum Wage:

  • Businesses may hire youth workers and pay them only $4.25 an hour during the first 90 calendar days of employment, so long as no other workers are displaced by the youth workers.
     
  • Tipped employees must be paid at least $2.13 an hour, and the combination of the hourly wage plus tips must equal regular minimum wage.
     
  • With permission of the Department of Labor, the following groups may receive less than standard minimum wage:
     
    • Student learners, i.e. vo-tech students.
       
    • Full-time students working in retail or service establishments, agriculture or institutions of higher education.
       
    • Persons with mental or physical disabilities.

Definitions:

  • Youth Workers are persons under 20 years of age.
     
  • Tipped Employees are persons earning at least $30 a month in tips.

Overtime Pay Law

Rule:

  • In general, after the first 40 hours of work, employers must pay overtime rates of one and a half (1 ) the regular rate for each hour worked.
     
  • The law does not limit the number of hours per week that an employee may be scheduled to work; it only requires that she receive more pay for time over 40 hours a week

Exceptions/Exemptions Specific to Overtime Pay Law:

  • The following groups are exempt from overtime pay provisions:
     
    • Some commissioned employees of retail and service businesses.
       
    • Salespeople employed by auto, truck, trailer, farm implement, boat or aircraft dealers/manufacturers.
       
    • Persons employed to service automobiles, trucks or farm implements, such as parts-clerks and mechanics.
       
    • Railroad and air carrier employees.
       
    • Taxi drivers.
       
    • Motor carrier employees directly involved in maintaining the safe operation of the vehicles.
       
    • Seamen on American vessels.
       
    • Local delivery employees under certain circumstances.
       
    • Small-market broadcasting station announcers, new editors and chief engineers.
       
    • Live-in domestics.
       
    • Movie theatre employees.
       
    • Farm workers.
       
  • The following groups may be partially exempt from overtime pay provisions:
     
    • Agricultural commodities employees under some conditions.
       
    • Employees of some bulk petroleum distributors.
       
    • Hospital and residential care employees under some conditions.
       
    • Persons without a high school diploma or who have not completed the eighth grade may be paid regular wage for up to 10 hours in remedial reading or in training in other non-job specific skills if their employer requires the training.

Exemptions From Both Minimum Wage and Overtime Provisions:

  • Executive, professional and administrative employees.
     
  • Outside sales employees.
     
  • Some skilled computer professionals.
     
  • Seasonal amusement and recreational employees.
     
  • Small newspaper employees and switchboard operators at small telephone companies.
     
  • Seamen employed on foreign vessels.
     
  • Fishing operation employees.
     
  • Newspaper deliverymen.
     
  • Farm workers on small farms.
     
  • Casual babysitters and companions of the elderly or infirm.
     
  • If you think you fall into one of these exemptions, check with an attorney.  Some of the exemptions have very technical definitions which might not include you.

Filing Requirements and Limitations:

  • You have 2 years to file for recovery of back pay under the FLSA unless the violation is willful, in which case a 3-year statute of limitations applies instead.
     
  • The FLSA generally covers businesses that have an annual volume of business of $500,000 or more.  However, it may also apply to companies producing less than that on an individual employee basis so long as the test below is met.
     
  • The FLSA applies to all companies engaged in interstate commerce, in the production of goods for interstate commerce, or in the handling, selling or working on goods that have been moved in or produced for interstate commerce.  In other words, with a very few exceptions, the FLSA applies across the board. 
     
  • Regardless of annual dollar volume of business, the following businesses are subject to the FLSA:
     
    1. Hospitals.
       
    2. Resident care facilities for the elderly, sick, mentally ill or disabled.
       
    3. Schools of all types and levels of education, whether profit or non-profit.
       
    4. Federal, state and local government agencies.

Remedies and Damages:

  • Back Pay
     
    • This is the most common form of relief.
       
    • Includes those wages the employee should have received but did not.
       
    • If the violation was intentional, the employee may receive double damages.
       
  • Criminal Prosecution
     
    • Willful violations will be prosecuted by the government and the violators fined up to $10,000.
       
    • A second conviction may result in a prison sentence.
       
    • Continued willful violations will result in civil money penalties of up to $1000 per violation.
       
    • The employer has the right to appeal the penalty within 15 days of notification of the penalty.  A special judge will assess the appropriateness of the penalty.
       
  • Suit by the Secretary of Labor
     
    • The Secretary of Labor is granted special power to sue employers on the behalf of employees for violations of the FLSA.
       
    • The remedies in these suits include back pay, liquidated damages and injunctions to keep businesses from continuing violations.
       
  • Attorneys Fees
     
    • The court may choose to award attorney's fees to the prevailing, or winning, party.
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