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Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act and Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act: What Are They and How Do They Benefit Michigan Employees?

Employers in the Detroit, Michigan area often find ways to keep from legally compensating employees for all their hours worked.  That may include paying employees on a salary basis and not paying overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week, paying “under-the-table,” or any other illegal pay practice. Federal and Michigan laws have requirements employers must follow for how to pay their employees.  The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, and the Michigan Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, which in 2018 replaced the previous state wage and hour law, the Michigan Minimum Wage Law, set forth requirements dictating what hours count as “compensable time” for which employees must be paid and minimum rates for that pay, including when employees are entitled to overtime pay. Below, we provide a general overview of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Michigan Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act so that you understand your rights to compensation as an employee.  Contact Marko Law today if you have any further questions or feel that your rights have been violated.

What is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?

The Fair Labor Standards Act is 1938 a federal law that covers minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards.  It covers all public sector employees, meaning people who work for the government, and all private sector employees who work for companies that have more than $500,000.00 in annual revenue.  It also covers individual employees who are engaged in interstate commerce. These are some of the rights and guidelines that may apply to you under the FLSA:

Minimum Wage

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  However, Michigan has a minimum wage in 2022 of $9.87.  Since employees are entitled to the higher minimum wage for which they are eligible, Michigan minimum wage applies to eligible employees in Michigan.


The FLSA generally requires that covered nonexempt employees receive an overtime premium for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.  This means that, unless you fall under one of the exemptions to overtime pay under the FLSA, you should be paid at least one and one-half times your regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week.  This only applies to actual hours worked and does not require extra pay for weekends, holidays, or night shifts.

Hours Worked

The FLSA has regulations, which have been expanded upon by courts, that determine whether time counts as “hours worked” as a matter of law.  If time is considered compensable under the FLSA, it must be counted as hours worked an employees are entitled to be paid for that time and, if they are nonexempt, it counts towards hours for determining overtime pay as well.


The FLSA requires employers to keep reliable records of what hours employees work.  If there is a dispute about whether an employee has been properly paid and the employer does not have those records, the courts rely on the employee’s best reasonable estimate of what hours they worked because it was the employer’s burden to keep accurate records throughout the course of employment.

Child Labor

The FLSA has guidelines that must be followed for employees under 18 years of age.  These rules dictate how many hours minors are allowed to work and what work conditions are and are not allowed.

Exceptions to Minimum Wage

The FLSA and Michigan law have many exceptions to their minimum wage and overtime requirements called “exemptions.”  Employees who are legally “exempt” are not entitled to overtime and, depending on the exemption, often not entitled to minimum wage.  However, even for nonexempt employees, there are certain situations where an employer may not be required to pay minimum wage.  There are also strict rules employers have to follow in order for those exceptions to apply. One common example is tipped employees.  As long as an employee regularly receives a certain amount in tips as a customary part of their job, an employer can count a certain amount of those tips towards meeting the minimum wage requirements.  However, to take that tip credit, the employee must actually receive enough tips to have earned at least minimum wage on average and the employer cannot keep the tips for themselves.

What is the Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act?

The Michigan Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act provides additional protection to Michigan employees beyond the FLSA.  It sets forth a higher minimum wage, which is $9.87 in 2022, and covers Michigan employees who fall outside the coverage of the FLSA. Typically, Michigan law follows federal law with respect to entitlement to minimum wage, entitlement to overtime, and determining what counts as hours worked.  When there is a difference between the two laws, employees fall under whichever law offers them the greater protection.

What if your rights to pay were violated in Michigan?

Federal and Michigan laws concerning minimum wage and overtime are designed to protect the rights of employees.  When employers violate those rights, they should be held accountable.  If your rights to minimum wage and overtime are violated you are entitled to compensation for your lost pay plus additional damages. Unfortunately, wage and hour violations often go unreported because employees do not know their rights or do not know how to enforce them.  If you have a potential claim for unpaid wages, or want to know whether you have a potential claim, do not hesitate to contact an employment law attorney who is familiar with Michigan and federal law and can help you.

What to do to file a wage and hour claim in Michigan

Wage and hour claims can be complicated, and most employees do not know if they have a case or how to proceed if they do.  In fact, many employers do not even know when they’ve been paying employees improperly!  The best way to find out if you have a potential case and what to do about it is to contact an employee-side employment law attorney in Michigan with experience in minimum wage and overtime cases.  Many lawyers, even those who handle employment law cases, do not know all the details or have experience with the FLSA, so it is important to talk to someone who knows about this very specific and complicated area of law. If you have a potential claim for unpaid wages, an experienced, knowledgeable wage-and-hour lawyers can help you determine what to do next.  Sometimes the issue can be resolved directly with the employer or through an agency without filing a lawsuit, but often it is necessary to go to Court to get back the wages you have already earned.  Your lawyer will talk to you about your options, what documents will be needed, and what to expect in the process.

Contact us today to get a free consultation

If you are ready to get started with your employment law case, contact Marko Law today.  We have employees with experience in minimum wage and overtime cases who are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.  Call (313) 777-7LAW today to get a free consultation.

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