Who is Covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act?

Who is Covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act

Passed in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was meant to protect workers from hazardous conditions and long hours at their jobs. It has undergone numerous amendments since it was originally passed, helping to expand its coverage. If you believe that your employer has violated your rights under the FLSA, the attorneys at Swartz Swidler might be able to help you.

Covered employers

Under the FLSA, employers with annual sales totaling at least $500,000 or those who are engaged in interstate commerce are covered by the law. Courts have interpreted interstate commerce broadly, meaning that almost all employers in the U.S. are covered.

Exempt employers

Some employers are exempted from the FLSA. These include small farms using little outside paid labor.

Coverage for employees

Some workers are exempt from the FLSA’s requirements even though they work for employers who are covered. Examples may include companions for the elderly who may be paid less than minimum wage and no overtime or airline employees who are exempt from overtime rules.

Professionals, administrative workers and executives

This category of exempt workers is confusing. Just because you are paid a salary does not mean that you are automatically exempt from the FLSA. The Department of Labor has provided guidance about these exemptions.

Exempt executives must direct the work of at least two full-time employees and manage others as their primary job duties. They must also have the authority to discipline, promote, demote, fire and hire others or to make recommendations about these decisions. Finally, they must be paid a salary of a minimum of $455 per week.

Administrative workers are exempt if they primarily perform nonmanual or office work for the company’s management, are allowed to use their discretion in their work tasks and earn a salary totaling at least $455 per week.

Professionals are those whose work requires them to use talent, originality, imagination or invention in a recognized creative field or to perform work that requires advanced knowledge. They must also be paid minimum salaries of $455 per week or more.

Highly compensated employees who are exempt are those who perform office work and who receive total annual compensation of at least $100,000. The total compensation must include at least $455 in weekly salary amounts, and the employees must perform at least one of the tasks of an administrative, executive or professional employee who is exempt. Many mistakes are made with this broad category of exempt employees.

Outside salespeople

Outside salespeople may be exempt if they regularly work away from their workplaces and make sales, obtain orders or obtain contracts for facilities or services. These workers are typically primarily paid by commissions.

Computer employees

Computer systems analysts, software engineers, computer programmers and other workers with similar skills who receive a fee basis or salary of at least $455 per week or no less than $27.63 per hour are exempt under the FLSA.

Miscellaneous workers

Other exempt workers under the FLSA include the following:

  • Seasonal employees of recreational businesses
  • Newspaper employees that have circulations smaller than 4,000 people
  • Seamen or sea-women on foreign vessels
  • Newspaper delivery workers
  • Small farm workers
  • Casual babysitters
  • Personal companions
  • Apprentices

Apprentices are exempt under the FLSA. These are workers who are a minimum of 16 years old and who have signed agreements to learn skilled trades.

Independent contractors

Independent contractors are not covered by the FLSA because they work for themselves. Employers sometimes try to skirt around the law by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. If most of your income comes from a single company, it is likely that a court would rule that you are a covered employee under the FLSA. Workers who have higher pay and higher skills are likelier to be considered to be independent contractors instead of employees, however.

To learn more about the FLSA and whether or not you are exempt, you might want to talk to an experienced employment law attorney. Contact Swartz Swidler today to learn more about your rights.