In 1937, President Roosevelt said that the Fair Labor Standard’s Act’s (“FLSA”) minimum wage and overtime laws are intended to ensure that “all out able-bodied working men and women [receive] a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” Those same provisions also promote job growth by discouraging employers from over-working their employees by putting financial pressure on business to spread employment across more workers. In this current economy when many are arguing that laws such as the FLSA discourage the American ideal of entrepreneurship, it is important to understand the true effect that the such laws have on our lives and our growth as a Nation.
The FLSA provides four main protections to workers. First, the FLSA protects against the exploitation of minors by making “oppressive child labor” unlawful. Second, the FLSA ensures workers are paid a minimum wage, although, many would argue whether the federal minimum wage is actually a liveable wage. Third, the FLSA prevents the over-working of employees by requiring employers to pay a 150% premium when their employees work more than 40 hours in a week. Finally, the FLSA’s retaliation provisions makes it unlawful to discharge or discriminate against employees who seek to uphold their rights under the FLSA.
When President Roosevelt sent the bill that eventually became law to Congress he stated that a “self-supporting and self respecting democracy can plead no justification for the existence of child labor, no economic reason for chiseling worker’s wages or stretching workers’ hours,” and that goods produced under such “conditions that do not meet rudimentary standards of decency should be regarded as contraband and ought not to be allowed to pollute the channels of interstate trade.” This great President recognized that the health and well-being of the United States workforce is critical to the success of our great nation and that the desire of businesses to make a profit should not outweigh our “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The President of the United States is charged with responsibility to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” that has a stated goal is to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, . . . promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . . .”
In times such as these when unemployment is high and employee moral is low, laws such as the FLSA not only serve to promote job creation and support the growth of our economy, but also uphold the principals of our Founding Fathers by securing “the Blessings of Liberty” for ourselves and our children. If you believe that you have not been treated fairly, contact an experienced employment lawyer for a free consultation.