A Brief History of ‘The Fair Labour Standards Act’

Fair Labour Standards Acts helped to establish a national minimum wage


The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) is a federal statute of the United States. Also known as the “Wages and Hours Bill,” the FLSA helped to establish a national minimum wage, guaranteed ‘time-and-a-half’ for certain jobs and most importantly, it prohibited minors from being employed in “oppressive child labor.” The Fair Labor Standards Act has evolved as our economy and corporate structures have. Many cases and violations have shaped the FLSA into the statute it is today.

Starting in 1946, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that preliminary work activities that were controlled by the employer and directly benefitted that employer must be compensated. The ruling came from the case of Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. and is referred to as the “Portal-to-Portal Act.” Examples would be training, prep time, clean up, etc. The court also ruled time driving to and from work as a normal incident of work and not compensable.

The FLSA was postponed during the inflation in the 1940’s due to the war efforts in Europe. The inflation lowered wages below the specified level of the FLSA. Quite a few amendments came up from the 40’s through the 60’s, mostly establishing a defined wage rate, hours worked, and overtime. In 1955, the minimum wage was set to one dollar per hour.

In 1961 an FLSA Amendment helped to define the jobs protected under the Act. These jobs were covered under the “enterprise coverage” and applied to businesses involved in interstate commerce with gross revenue of at least $500,000 a year. The Amendment expanded coverage to include schools, hospitals, nursing homes and all government entities. Coverage didn’t apply to entities not organized seeking revenue, such as churches and non-profits. The minimum wage increased again to $1.25 per hour. The Amendment also included the right to sue for back wages, if the employee was owed money.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to make it illegal to pay different wages for the same job based on the sex of the employee. It can best be described as “equal pay for equal work” and was a major step in helping women become fairly compensated.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibited the discrimination of persons over the age of 40. Before the Act, some older workers were being denied health benefits or training opportunities due to their age.

Throughout the years as inflation raised prices, there have been many more amendments to the minimum wage and other employee rights and benefits. The San Antonio employment law attorneys at Davis Law understand how important employee rights and benefits are. If you feel your rights have been violated, please seek counsel as soon as possible.

Source by Jeff Davis