FLSA and Workers’ Rights

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 in Workers' Rights | 0 comments

It may be difficult to believe now, but the principles behind the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 were against the prevailing custom of protecting industrialists in those days. Before enactment of the FLSA, employers who paid their workers less than the minimum wage, did not give overtime pay, and used child labor were generally confident that they would not be brought to book, even when federal statutes expressly forbade it.

These laws were promulgated New Deal program advisers to then-President Franklin Roosevelt under the National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA). Despite its popularity with the general public, the NRA was disarmed because at that time the nine judges of the Supreme Court deemed these laws on wages and child labor was an unconstitutional intrusion of the government into private enterprise. The Supreme Court also vetoed the idea of mandating a minimum wage for women.

It seemed that fair labor would continue to be merely a theory until President Roosevelt proposed a reorganization of the Supreme Court after his landslide victory in the presidential election of 1936. Apparently in an unrelated move, the Supreme Court upheld the minimum wage law in a Washington case being held at that time, in direct contrast to their ruling in the New York earlier that year. When one judge was questioned about this apparent about face, the judge stated the cases were legally distinct from each other. Whatever the reason, this signaled the beginning of the end to pro-employer laws and paved the way for the FLSA, which to this day plays a major part in employment issues and cases.

The FLSA has undergone frequent and significant amendments since it was first enacted, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967. While workers’ compensation benefits are not federally mandated (except for federal employees) like the FLSA, it follows the trend of safeguarding the well-being of workers that started more than 75 years ago. The website of the Des Moines workers comp attorneys at the LaMarca Law Group has more information about workplace laws, especially what happens after a job-related injury.

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