Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) History

The United States government enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938 in order to protect the rights of workers and encourage economic fair play between management and labor. It established the national minimum wage, created the time and a half pay system for overtime work, and regulated the employment of minors. It also originally contained a large number of specialized industry exemptions designed to protect pay scales in small, decentralized localities common to the nation at the time. Most of these exemptions were repealed as the nation shifted away from small scale employment to the industrial large scale manufacturing of goods during and after the Second World War.

As the nation's economy moved from industrial production to post-industrial information management, many of the aspects of the FLSA became outdated and ineffective. A large number of the new professions unprotected by the FLSA were the so-called "white collar" professional, administrative, and executive jobs. People in these jobs often had little recourse when they wished to express their grievances other than to complain directly to their supervisors who were under no legal obligation to help them.

Changes to the FLSA

On August 23, 2004, the FLSA underwent several controversial changes that modified the definition of who can be considered an "exempt" employee, which basically is a worker for whom overtime rules do not apply. These changes affected many employees in a variety of technical fields who had specialized knowledge but no formal academic training. Millions of these and other workers could now be forced to work extra hours at the same pay rate because they are now classified as "supervisors" or "managers", despite the fact they had no direct management or administrative authority.

If you believe that you are a victim of FLSA abuses you may be entitled to take legal action against your employer. There are specialized wage and duty tests that must be used to determine whether or not your position is exempt and if your employer violates those rules, they can be held accountable. Labor laws are inherently complicated and it takes an experienced legal professional to accurately access your particular situation. If you need legal guidance, contact one today.

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The History of Fair Labor Standards Act page updated on 9/28/06