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5 common FLSA violations in the workplace

The American Dream says that everyone should have an equal opportunity for success and prosperity through hard work and determination.

You have set a course toward success and are paving the path every day to get yourself there. While you’re hard at work, it’s important that you know about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and what protections it offers you. Then, while you’re hard at work, keep an eye out for these common workplace violations that are designed to benefit your employer and set you back on your path to success.

How the FLSA came to be

The Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression were a powerful stress test on our employment system, and the abuses that took place gave way to The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. Two years prior, while campaigning for reelection, President Franklin Roosevelt saw a young girl in a crowd forcibly pushed back while trying to pass him a note. Roosevelt, moved by this young girl, asked an aide to fetch the note, which was a desperate plea for help. The employer at her sewing factory had slashed over 200 employees’ wages by as much as 63%. This moment marked a turning point in American labor standards, and an attempt to end what Roosevelt referred to as “starvation wages.”

Here is what the FLSA provides:

  • A federal minimum wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Pay for all hours worked
  • Recordkeeping
  • Child labor regulations

Common FLSA violations

Most people agree that workplace standards ought to exist, due in part to the continued abuses taking place every day in America. While we would all like to assume otherwise, employers are not always in compliance.

Here are 5 common FLSA violations:

  1. Inaccurate classification. There are many types of employment classifications. Knowing how you’ve been classified, and what protections come with that classification, can help you determine if your employer is treating you fairly under the law.
  2. Overtime. Depending on your classification, your employer must pay you overtime if you are working “off-the-clock”. Regardless of circumstance.
  3. Unpaid work time.Employers fall out of compliance when they fail to compensate non-exempt employees for all hours worked. This includes breaks, business travel time, mandatory training, etc.
  4. Documentation. Employers must keep records related to wages and hours for a pre-determined amount of time.
  5. Substituting comp time for overtime. Employers eligible for overtime must be allowed the option of a cash payout. Employers cannot force an employee to take something (comp time or company tickets to a sporting event) in place of compensation added to their paycheck.

Knowing your rights in the workplace is an important skill for those trying to achieve The American Dream. Even the best employers are guilty of violating the FLSA, but the law is clear and was founded because of the injustices endured by the hard laborers who came before you.

It’s up to you to notice FLSA violations and do your part to protect workers’ rights.

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