Continuing the fight for fair wages!

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, after an historic amount of opposition. The FLSA was focused on industries that consisted of about only one-fifth of the workforce. The purpose of the Fair Labor Standards Act was to establish an hourly minimum wage of 25 cents an hour, ban child labor, and establish a 44 hour work week.

Opposition to Wage and Labor Laws


fair labor standards actThe largest opposition to the wage and labor laws was posed by the supreme court. Spanning roughly a decade before the Fair Labor Standards Act was written into law, the Supreme court shot down laws that were trying to make pay and labor conditions decent for working men and women.  In 1918, Hammer vs. Dagenhart, the Supreme court, by one vote, said it was unconstitutional to pass a child labor law. In 1923,  Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, the Supreme court again shot down a law that would allow an established minimum wage for women.

Under the New Deal program of 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act was intended to enforce fair trade while reducing competition and allowing for higher wages. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) again stepped up by promoting the President’s Reemployment Agreement which was intended to raise the minimum weekly wage to $12-$15, establish a workweek of 35-40 hours, and prevent the employment of children under 16 years of age.  The NIRA was the stepping stone to what we have in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and today.

In 1935, the Supreme court said the National Industrial Recovery Act was enforcing a code that was an “unconstitutional delegation of government power to private interests” in Schechter Corp. v. United States.  The issues of fair wages didn’t stop there, and became a major issue in the 1936 Presidential race, and then went on to be passed in 1938.

Fair Labor Standards Act Today


As it stands today, the
Fair Labor Standards Act, establishes a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, recordkeeping of employees time and pay, overtime pay, and prohibits child labor while establishing youth employment standards for the state, federal, and local level.

Overtime pay is for covered, nonexempt employees, who receive one and half times their regular pay over a 40 hour work week. Employees that are exempt from the fair labor standards act minimum wage and overtime protections are those considered executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer professionals.  The categorization of exemption is determined by 3 tests:

  • Salary Level Test: The employer must pay the employee the minimum annual salary. As of December 2016, the annual salary increased from $23,660 to $47,476.
  • Salary Basis Test :  The employer must pay the employee their fully salary every week regardless of the quantity or quality of their work. The weekly salary increased from $455 week to $913 weekly.
  • Duties:  The tasks or duties the employee performs must meet certain guidelines.

Employees that are highly compensated are exempt from wage and overtime pay of the FLSA. In order to be considered highly compensated and exempt, these employees must receive a salary of $134,000 annually.  Updates to these exemptions will increase every 3 years beginning January 2020.

If you have questions or concerns that your employer is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, contact the Law offices of Thomas More Holland at (215)543-6771.