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October 24, 2023

Worker Protections Found in the Fair Labor Standards Act Turn 85

On October 24, 1938, six years after it was initially introduced by Senator Hugo Black of Alabama, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) became federal law. The Act established a federal minimum wage, employer record-keeping requirements, the eight-hour workday/40-hour workweek, and overtime pay requirements. It also established laws against “oppressive child labor.”
Home » News » Worker Protections Found in the Fair Labor Standards Act Turn 85

Matthew Purushotham
Tue, 10/24/2023

On October 24, 1938, six years after it was initially introduced by Senator Hugo Black of Alabama, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) became federal law. The Act established a federal minimum wage, employer record-keeping requirements, the eight-hour workday/40-hour workweek, and overtime pay requirements. It also established laws against “oppressive child labor.” The Department of Labor estimates that the Act protects more than 143 million U.S. workers.

The Act, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1938, followed years of resistance from the Supreme Court to other attempts at labor legislation. For example, in 1918, the Court struck down a federal law prohibiting child labor (Hamnmer v. Dagenhart). In 1923, the Court struck down a federal law providing for a minimum wage for women in the District of Columbia (Adkins v. Children’s Hospital). And, just two years before the FLSA became law, a 5-4 majority of the Court struck down a New York minimum wage law that was specifically designed to comply with the ruling in Adkins (Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo).

Following the defeat in Morehead, Roosevelt proposed adding six justices to the Supreme Court in order to get New Deal legislation upheld. A month later, the Supreme Court upheld a minimum wage law in Washington State (West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish). Roosevelt signed the FLSA into law the following year. Although various business interests challenged the law, the Supreme Court upheld the FLSA in 1941 (U.S. v. Darby), on the grounds that Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause to regulate employment conditions.

The FLSA provides covered workers an array of protections, including:

  • Federal Minimum Wage: Employers must pay covered employees at least $7.25 per hour ($2.13 per hour for tipped employees).
  • Overtime Requirements: Employers must pay employees not exempt from the Act’s overtime requirements at a rate not less than one and one-half times an employees’ regular rate of pay for all hours they work over 40 in a work week. This includes certain work performed immediately before and after employee work shifts and during unpaid meal breaks.
  • Late-payments: The FLSA also requires employers to pay their employees on time and imposes damages when employers fail to do so.
  • Recordkeeping Requirements: Employers are required to maintain accurate records for each non-exempt worker they employ, including data about the hours they work and the wages they earn.
  • Child Labor Protections: The Act provides a variety of child labor protections, such as minimum ages for certain types of employment, prohibition of some work during certain hours (such as school hours), and prohibition on employing any minor in performance of hazardous occupations, including: manufacturing or storing explosives, mining, work involving exposure to radioactive substances, roofing, and trenching and excavation operations.

MSE has represented tens of thousands of workers in cases involving unpaid regular pay and overtimemisclassification (when an overtime eligible employee is treated as ineligible, miscalculation of the overtime rate, and late payment of overtime.

For more information on the FLSA and common wage and hour violations, visit https://www.mselaborlaw.com/resources/common-violations. If you believe your employer has failed to properly compensate you, including failing to pay you time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, contact MSE at info@mselaborlaw.com.

Legal Representation for All Workers

When McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP decides to take your case, it is because we believe there is an unacceptable workplace violation that has negatively impacted you or resulted in your employer paying less than what the law requires and which we have a reasonable chance of remedying. We recognize that meritorious claims should not go unremedied because of the level of a person’s resources.

To ensure accessible and available legal representation for all our clients, MSE handles cases through different forms of fee arrangements, including contingency fees, hourly fees and fixed fees.

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