"It's not fair!"

Why the Fair Labor Standards Act continues to be a headache for employers

In light of recent litigation that has cost employers billions of dollars, it is not surprising the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has been regarded by employers as anything but fair.

Enacted in 1938, the federal law was meant to mandate minimum and overtime wages to employees who were, at the time, perceived as being victimized by oppressive employers. The employment landscape has changed dramatically during the past 70 years.

Employees currently enjoy a wide variety of rights and privileges that provide them with many protections previously unavailable. Likewise, employers are far more cognizant of their obligations under numerous laws and regulations that govern the employer-employee relationship. Rather than regulating relationships between victims and bullies, FLSA now regulates relationships between more well-informed employees and more well-intentioned employers.

Notwithstanding the numerous piecemeal amendments to FLSA and promulgation and revision of a multitude of Department of Labor (DOL) interpretive regulations, courts continue to struggle with uniformly interpreting and applying FLSA's complex provisions. It is no surprise FLSA is one of employers' most persistent headaches and, for some, a living nightmare. Indeed, FLSA collective actions are viewed and understood by many employers as "company killers."