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The Fair Labor Standards Act and Retaliation

Overview: Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards (“FLSA”) is a federal law which requires certain employers to pay non-exempt employees the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour) and/or overtime at time-and-a-half for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) in a given week. The FLSA provisions are enforced by the Department of Labor (“DOL”), Wage and Hour Division. However, in addition to addressing matters regarding pay, the FLSA also contains a provision regarding employer retaliation.

What does the FLSA say about retaliation?

The FLSA articulates that it is a violation for “any person to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this Act, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding, or has served or is about to serve on an industry committee.”

According to the DOL, an employee is protected regardless of whether a complaint is made orally or in writing and most courts have ruled that internal complaints made to an employer qualify under the “filed any complaint” item. Furthermore, as the above-noted provision states that the FLSA prohibits “any person” from retaliating against “any employee,” the FLSA retaliation provision protects all employees of an employer, even when the employee’s work and/or the employer may not actually be covered by the FLSA. The retaliation provision also may apply to situations where there is no actual current employment relationship between the business entity and the individual. For example, the DOL noted that an employee may be protected from retaliation by a former employer.

Enforcement

Various avenues may be available to individuals interested in pursuing an FLSA retaliation claim. Such may include, but is not limited to, filing a complaint with the DOL, Wage and Hour Division or filing a lawsuit in the appropriate federal court. If an individual files a lawsuit he/she may recover certain types of damages, which may include but are not limited to employment, reinstatement, lost wages, and an additional amount in liquidated damages.

If you feel your rights have been violated under the FLSA or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Wrady Michel & King. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 319-9724. We are here to serve you.