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Things you should know about federal wage laws, part 1

The term wage and hour claims is thrown around on this blog. Having discussed such claims on here in the past, we thought it would be valuable to lay out some of the basic laws governing such cases.

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides specific protections and rights for workers, here in New York and throughout the U.S. Below is a list of the basic employment law aspects that the FLSA governs:

  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Child labor standards
  • Record keeping

What is the legal minimum wage?

Before talking about wage specifics, you should understand the difference between exempt and nonexempt workers. An exempt worker is paid a salary versus and hourly wage. Nonexempt workers work a set 40 hours a week for an hourly wage. Any time they work beyond the 40 hours should result in overtime pay. FLSA laws apply primarily to these types of workers. 

Minimum wage for nonexempt employees -- according to federal law -- is $5.15/hour. If this sounds low to you, it is probably because your state has its own minimum wage standards. New York, for example, offers a $9.00/hour minimum wage. 

When a nonexempt worker puts in over 40 hours a week, there should be records of that overtime work and overtime rates should be paid. That rate of pay should be nothing less than one-and-a-half times the rate of regular, hourly pay.

Ask yourself this: Do you know whether you are an exempt or nonexempt worker? To some, this might sound like a silly question. But it is important for all employees to know their classification in order to understand their employment rights. 

This is just one of various posts to come about the FLSA. A next post will delve more into the subject of overtime pay and employer responsibility. 

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