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While states such as Kentucky have implemented their own laws to protect employees, it is always important to remember that the federal government has also passed legislation to protect certain kinds of workers. One such piece of legislation is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law was introduced in 1938 to mandate aspects of the job such as minimum wage, overtime, and child labor.((See Compliance Assistance – Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), U.S. Dept. of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/ (last visited Jan. 10, 2018).)) Of course, not all workers are protected by this act and therefore, not all employers are required to comply with it. For these reasons, it is important to understand how the law works and whether you as an employee are covered under it.

Laborer at work.

The Fair Labor Standards Act was adopted in 1938 to regulate how employees are paid and whether they qualify for overtime pay. Under the FLSA, covered employees have a minimum wage, as of 2009, of $7.25 per hour and are able to collect overtime pay for “hours worked over 40 per workweek… at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.”((Id.)) However, these protections, particularly the provisions regarding overtime pay, only apply if the employee is covered under the FLSA, which not all employees are under the statute. Because of this, a worker may be considered exempt from the law, which means they are not entitled to overtime pay, or are nonexempt, and thus can collect overtime pay.

To determine whether or not you are exempt under the FLSA, the act has established a three-part test to determine whether or not you are entitled to overtime pay. To start, if you make more than $23,600 per year then you may be exempt under the statute, as any worker who makes less than that will be nonexempt automatically. If you make over $23,600 annually, then the next step is to analyze whether or not you are paid on a salary basis or “”guaranteed minimum” amount of money s/he can count on receiving for any workweek in which s/he performs “any” work. This amount need not be the entire compensation received, but there must be some amount of pay the employee can count on receiving in any workweek in which s/he performs any work.” If you are paid on such a basis, then you may be exempt from the FLSA. However, even if you meet the two previous requirements, you will still need to fulfill the duties test for your particular job. If it turns out you perform certain duties in your position, under the statute, you will then be exempt from overtime pay. While this finding will vary based on what your job actually entails, common jobs that are exempt under the statute include positions dealing with outside sales, an administrative or executive position, or workers covered under other acts.((Fair Labor Standards Act Exemptions-Overtime, Employment Law Handbook, https://www.employmentlawhandbook.com/federal-employment-and-labor-laws/flsa/overtime-exemptions/ (last visited Jan. 10, 2018).))

Ultimately, the FLSA is a powerful tool that can be used to vindicate your rights as an employee. Kentucky has followed the FLSA and provides similar protections for workers under its own state laws found in the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act.((Kentucky Minimum Wage and Overtime Exemptions, Employment Law Handbook, https://www.employmentlawhandbook.com/wage-and-hour-laws/state-wage-and-hour-laws/kentucky/exemptions/ (last visited Jan. 10, 2018).)) Whether or not any changes will occur in Kentucky in regards to overtime pay or minimum wage seems unlikely, as the Kentucky Supreme Court last year invalidated a city ordinance in Louisville that would have raised the minimum wage up to $9.00 an hour.((Kentucky Supreme Court strikes down minimum wage ordinance, WLWT5 (Jan. 4, 2017), http://www.wlwt.com/article/kentucky-supreme-court-strikes-down-minimum-wage-ordinance/7024740.))

If, however, you feel as if your rights have been violated because you have been paid less than minimum wage or failed to receive compensation for overtime, you should contact legal counsel immediately to review your possible courses of action.