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General Civil

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the source of minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting over 100 million private sector and governmental workers. To be covered by the FLSA, an enterprise must have employees whose work has at least an indirect connection to interstate commerce. In most cases, a firm must do at least $500,000 in business annually to be covered, although some entities, including hospitals, schools, and governmental agencies, are subject to the FLSA regardless of the volume of business.

The FLSA is far-reaching, but it does have its limits. For example, it does not require pay for vacations, holidays, severance, or sickness, nor does it mandate meal or rest periods, holidays off, or vacations. When an employee is fired, the FLSA does not require a discharge notice, a reason for the discharge, or immediate payment of final wages. Assuming the employee is at least 16 years old, the FLSA also does not limit the number of hours in a day, or days in a week, that an employee may be scheduled to work.

Wages and Overtime

Workers covered by the FLSA currently are entitled to the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour and overtime pay that is at least one and one-half times their regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work in a workweek. Some minimum wage exceptions apply under specific circumstances to disabled workers, full-time students, workers under 20 in their first 90 days of employment, tipped employees, and student-learners. Wages required by the FLSA must be paid on the regular payday for the covered pay period. Employers cannot effectively reduce the wages of their employees below amounts required for the minimum wage or for overtime pay by making deductions from paychecks for such items as shortages, required uniforms, and tools of the trade.


For the FLSA to apply, there must be an employment relationship that is distinct from other arrangements, such as hiring an independent contractor. Even when it does apply, the FLSA contains many specific exemptions. The exemptions may be from overtime pay, from both the minimum wage and overtime pay, or from child labor provisions. Doubts about application of an exemption generally are resolved against the employer. Employers should scrutinize the exact requirements for an exemption before assuming it applies.

Some of the employees exempted from the overtime pay requirement are commissioned sales employees whose earnings average at least one and one-half times the minimum wage for each hour worked and certain computer professionals who make at least $27.63 per hour. Examples of workers exempted from both the minimum wage and overtime pay include employees of certain seasonal and recreational establishments and white-collar employees in executive, administrative, professional, or outside sales positions who are paid on a salary basis.

Child Labor

The child labor provisions in the FLSA are meant to protect the educational opportunities of children and to prohibit their employment in unhealthy or dangerous jobs. The FLSA restricts hours of work for those under 16 and lists hazardous occupations that are too dangerous for young workers. The rules vary with the age of the worker and the occupation. At age 18, an employee is no longer covered by federal child labor rules.


For private businesses, the main enforcer of the FLSA is the federal Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Its representatives conduct investigations either on their own initiative or in response to complaints. The Secretary of Labor can sue to force compliance and to recover unpaid minimum and/or overtime wages, plus an equal amount as liquidated damages. If such a suit has not already been filed, an employee can bring a private action for the same remedies, plus attorney's fees and court costs. Willful or repeated violations of the minimum wage or overtime requirements can result in civil money penalties or criminal prosecution. Aiming at the fruit of underpaid or illegal labor, the FLSA has a "hot goods" provision that prohibits anyone from shipping, offering to ship, or selling in interstate commerce any goods produced in violation of the FLSA.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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