Filing a Wage and Hour Claim for Unpaid Wages as the Fair Labor Standards Act Turns 80
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SILVER SPRING, Md. (Oct. 25, 2018) – Workplace Fairness believes that treatment of workers is sound public policy and good business practice. This week marks the 80th year since the Fair Labor Standards Act took effect. The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers as well as in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.
Workplace Fairness provides easy-to-read information on the most common pay issues covered by the FLSA including overtime, commissions, tipped employees, child labor, deductions from pay, and many more on our Unpaid Wages page.
When it comes to filing a wage and hour claim under the FSLA for unpaid wages, who enforces the law?
The FLSA is enforced by the Wage & Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor. WHD’s enforcement of FLSA is carried out by investigators stationed across the U.S., who conduct investigations and gather data on wages, hours and other employment conditions or practices, to determine whether an employer has complied with the law. Where violations are found, they also may recommend changes in employment practices to bring an employer into compliance.
It is a violation to fire or in any other manner discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint or for participating in a legal proceeding under FLSA.
Willful violations may be prosecuted criminally and the violator fined up to $10,000. A second conviction may result in imprisonment. Employers who willfully or repeatedly violate the minimum wage requirements are subject to a civil money penalty of up to $1,000 for each such violation.
The FLSA makes it illegal to ship goods in interstate commerce which were produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, or special minimum wage provisions.
To find out about filing a claim in your state, see the Workplace Fairness page on Filing a Wage and Hour Claim to find out more about wage and hour claims generally and to get details about wage and hour laws in each of the states.
What are the remedies available to me?
There are several different methods under the FLSA for an employee to recover unpaid minimum and/or overtime wages; each method has different remedies. Wage-Hour may supervise payment of back wages. The Secretary of Labor may bring suit for back wages and an additional penalty, called "liquidated damages," which can be equal to the back pay award (essentially doubling the damages) if an employer willfully violated the statute.
For further information, please contact the agency in your state which handles wage and hour/labor standards violations, listed on our site's Filing a Wage and Hour Claim page.
How do I file a complaint/How long do I have to file?
To file a complaint for unpaid wages under the FLSA, you may either go to the WHD, which may pursue a complaint on your behalf, or file your own lawsuit in court (which may require you to hire an attorney). See more about strict time limits for filing a claim. Your state wage law may have different deadlines for recovery of unpaid wages. For further information, select your state from the map on the list here.
Workplace Fairness publishes a weekly newsletter, Workplace Week, which covers news and commentary on critical issues affecting employees and their advocates. Find helpful and more comprehensive information at https://www.workplacefairness.org/
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About Workplace Fairness
Workplace Fairness is a nonprofit organization that provides information, education and assistance to individual workers and their advocates nationwide and promotes public policies that advance employee rights.
Our goals are that workers and their advocates are educated about workplace rights and options for resolving workplace problems and that policymakers, members of the business community and the public at large view the fair treatment of workers as both good business practice and sound public policy.
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Workplace Fairness works toward these goals by:
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- Presenting the employee perspective in publications, policy debates and public discussion.
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