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Fair Labor Standards Act

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt petitioned for the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act during his presidency, he said “A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Ever since its enactment, the Fair Labor Standards Act has been regulating federal overtime pay laws. The Act establishes federal minimum wage rules as well as overtime pay laws, under which employees are entitled to one and a half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a week. The FLSA also establishes strict penalties on companies that violate its provisions, sometimes up to as much as double back pay damages for companies that are found to be acting in violation of the law.


Fair Labor Standards Act vs. California Labor Code

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees are only entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. In contrast, the California Labor Code and state Wage Orders require California companies to pay employees overtime for working more than 8 hour days in a day, as well as working more than 40 hours in a workweek. Moreover, the California Labor Code has many other strict rules that are not included in the Fair Labor Standards Act. For instance, labor law breaks are valid rules in California, but not under federal overtime laws. Further, employers in California are required to reimburse employees for all work-related business expenses, which is not true under the FLSA. While ERISA governs some vacation pay policies under federal law, California laws are much more rigid when it comes to these policies. See California Labor Code Section 227.3.


FLSA Collective Actions vs. Class Action Lawsuits

Under the FLSA, there is something called a “collective action”. A collective action is a little bit different than a class action lawsuit under the Federal and California Rules of Civil Procedure. Collective actions are different from class actions in that they are not subject to certification as “opt out” class actions are under the Rules of Civil Procedure. Rather, the FLSA collective action may be brought as an “opt in” collective action on behalf of all affected employees who are “similarly situated” to the plaintiffs who started the lawsuit to collect money under overtime pay laws. In other words, the main difference between a collective action and a class action lawsuit is that a collective action requires employees to affirmatively opt in and say that they want to be a part of the class. Whereas, in a class action, the employees are presumed to be a part of the class unless they affirmatively opt out by submitting a form. It is important to note that there is a higher chance of discrimination in the workplace under the FLSA collective action because employers may retaliate against employees for being a part of the class action, although this is a clear violation of California Labor Laws.


FLSA Time Limits to File an Overtime Pay Lawsuit

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides that civil actions must be commenced by employees within two years of the violations, except when the FLSA violations are willful, in which case the employee has three years to file a claim seeking damages and penalties under federal overtime laws. The word “willful” for purposes of federal overtime pay laws has not been given a clear definition; it is generally accepted that it refers to employer conduct that is not merely negligent.


Protecting Your FLSA Rights: You May Be Entitled to Recover 2x Your Back Pay

If your current or former employer acted in violation of federal overtime pay laws, you may be entitled to recover two times the back pay. When employees are improperly denied overtime pay, they are at least entitled to recover their unpaid overtime wages plus interest. There is also a penalty under federal law that creates a right for employees to recover liquidated damages in certain circumstances, like when an employer intentionally commits violations to the Fair Labor Standards Act.