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What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

Unless you've gone to law school or study the law in your spare time, you're like a lot of people across the nation -- you probably are quite unfamiliar with the state and federal laws that are at work every day. One such law is the Fair Labor Standards Act.

You've probably heard this law mentioned by an employer when you were first hired for a job or read about it in an employee handbook at sometime. But if you're like a lot of residents here in California, you may not be aware of what this law actually is or does. That's why we wanted to take time in this week's blog post to talk about FLSA and what it does for you.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA for short, was first established in 1938 to set a minimum wage and the number of hours a person was allowed to work in a standard 40-hour work week. These standards were later expanded to include a number of other employment-related items including equal pay standards, over-time pay, and child labor standards. The FLSA applies to just about all employees in the private sector as well as those who work at the local, state or federal levels.

Even if most people are not aware that this law is at work, they may still be appreciative of what it does. As we mentioned above, the FLSA established minimum wage and overtime pay laws. With the establishment of minimum wage, employers were no longer allowed to pay employees whatever they wanted in order to achieve the highest profit. Overtime laws worked the same way and gave employees higher wages if they worked over 40 hours in a work week.

It's worth pointing out, however, that some employees are exempt from the requirements of the FLSA. This depends heavily on an "employee's specific job duties and salary," according to the Department of Labor, and is something that could be the difference in determining whether there was a violation of employment laws.  Employers need to carefully understand the FLSA as well as California's own state law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which also regulates employers.

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