The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the law that governs minimum wages and overtime pay. The FLSA was enacted by Congress in 1938 and has been the core law protecting workers’ rights to receive fair wages. By that I mean the right to receive a minimum wage and a right to receive overtime pay. While the FLSA does not apply to every type of employee, many types of employees are covered. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, many employers regularly violate the FLSA by either not paying their employees for all the time their employees spend working or misclassifying their employees as exempt from FLSA when they are not. Additionally, some employers have a compensation policy that does not truly reflect the actual time their employees spend working. The unfair result is that the employer receives a free benefit from its employees.
Currently, Gary Burger is representing a class of Corrections Officers against the State of Missouri Department of Corrections. In that case, the State of Missouri is not paying its Corrections Officers for all the time the Corrections Officers spend working. Corrections Officers are typically paid for working five eight-hour shifts per week, which adds up to forty hours. Unfortunately, the Department of Corrections has a policy where Corrections Officers have to be on their post by the time their scheduled shift begins. Because of the security nature of their jobs, corrections officers have to perform certain tasks before they can start their shift and begin being compensated. Additionally, these corrections officers have to perform certain tasks after their shift is over. These pre-shift and post-shift activities take on the average of twenty to thirty minutes per shift, and the Corrections Officers are not compensated for this time. To add further insult to injury, if a Corrections Officer arrives on time at their facility, but because of the pre-shift activities reports late to their post, that Corrections Officer can be disciplined for being late. Some of the Corrections Officers have, in the past, requested overtime pay for the extra time they spend working. The State of Missouri has routinely denied those requests. Gary is fighting hard to get the State of Missouri to pay the money that was earned by the Corrections Officers in the past, and to get the State of Missouri to change its compensation policies so that Corrections Officers are fairly compensated in the future.
The case above is only one type of an FLSA violation, among many. Another common form of FLSA violations happens in the restaurant industry and relates to tipped employees. Restaurants/fast food businesses with annual gross sales from one or more establishments that total at least $500,000 are subject to the FLSA. Tipped employees in those restaurants typically receive only $2.13 as their hourly rate relying on the rest of their earnings to come from tips. If the combination of the tips and the hourly wages does not add up to the required minimum wage ($7.25), the employer violates the FLSA. Here are some common violations:
- Employer deductions for cash shortages, required uniforms or customer walk-outs that reduce the employee’s income to below minimum wage.
- Overtime must be paid for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per week at a rate that is one and a half times the minimum wage ($7.25) not one and a half times $2.13. If the employee’s wages and tips are less than the required amount, it is a violation.
Gary Burger investigates and pursues these, and many other FLSA Wage & Hour violations. If you work in a restaurant and you believe that your worker rights have been violated, please call Gary Burger, Wage and Hour lawyer at (314) 648-8348.