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Warehouse Workers' Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Portrait of a woman in a warehouse

Understanding your right to be paid minimum wage, overtime, and more

Warehouse work can be grueling, with workers subjected to long hours of strenuous work and risk of injury. That's why both federal and Ohio laws exist to protect the rights of those workers to be paid for all hours worked.

Unfortunately, just because those laws exist doesn't mean employees' rights are always respected. That is why employees need to know their legal rights and take action if necessary to protect them.

What is the FLSA?

The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that sets the federal minimum wage, overtime, and other wage and hour protections. Strictly speaking, not every business is covered by the FLSA, but it does apply to all businesses that do at least $500,000 in business annually. It also applies to businesses that are engaged in interstate commerce or the production of goods for interstate commerce. Practically speaking, this means essentially all warehouse workers should be covered by the FLSA, according to the Department of Labor.

Some of the key protections provided by the FLSA include:

  • Covered employees must be paid at least the legal minimum wage.
  • Non-exempt employees (which, in a warehouse, is usually almost everyone) must be paid time and a half for all hours in excess of 40 in a workweek — whether they're paid hourly, salary, day rate, piece rate, or on any other basis.
  • Employees must be paid for all hours worked, regardless of their scheduled shifts.

The law also sets certain recordkeeping requirements for employers to verify that they are in compliance with the FLSA.

What are common FLSA violations in warehouses?

Unfortunately, whether through ignorance of the law or an intentional scheme to pay workers less, some warehouses do not follow the requirements established by the FLSA. Some of the most common violations of the FLSA and other federal wage and hour laws in warehouse environments include:

  • Not paying employees for all hours worked, including time spent taking inventory or completing paperwork outside scheduled hours.
  • Averaging hours worked across two or more workweeks to avoid paying overtime. For instance, if a non-exempt employee works 30 hours one week and 50 hours the next, the employer can't average that out to 40 hours a week. They must pay 10 hours of overtime for the second week.
  • Assuming salaried, day rate, or piece rate employees aren't eligible for overtime, even if they do not meet the legal criteria to be exempt.
  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
  • Requiring workers to clock out for short rest breaks (breaks 20 minutes and under must be paid), or interrupting unpaid meal breaks (which legally must be 30 uninterrupted minutes).

If your employer is violating these legal requirements, you do have recourse — but you have to fight for it. That's where a wage and hour attorney can make a significant difference.

Schedule a free consultation today

At Nilges Draher LLC, our legal team can investigate, get to the bottom of what happened, and determine how your employer violated the law. Sometimes, it's possible to resolve these situations with a negotiated settlement. Other cases may end up in federal court.

Your first step should be to contact us for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We can help.

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