Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law establishing overtime pay, minimum wage and other employment standards for both private employers and federal, state and local governments. The law protects full- and part-time workers, including those who are paid largely in tips.

Some of the FLSA's major provisions are described briefly below. If you believe you have been subjected to any of the practices prohibited under the Act, please contact us to speak with one of our Chicago FLSA lawyers about how we may be able to assist you.


Employers are required to pay covered workers overtime pay for all time worked beyond 40 hours in a given workweek. The legally mandated overtime rate is one-and-one-half-times the worker's regular pay rate. For example, a worker who normally earns $20 per hour must be paid $30 per hour for those hours worked over 40 in a week.

There is no limit on the total hours an employee can work per week, so long as the worker gets overtime pay for all time after the 40-hour mark. It is important to remember that the FLSA's overtime provision focuses on the number of hours worked, rather than the day on which they are worked. The law does not require overtime pay for work on weekends or holidays, unless overtime is worked on such days.

One way in which employers try to avoid paying overtime is by forcing workers to perform certain parts of their jobs "off the clock." An employer may tell a worker to arrive before his scheduled shift to do certain prep work or make the employee clock out before doing clean-up and other end-of-shift tasks. This practice is a direct violation of the FLSA, which expressly requires employers to pay their workers for all hours worked.


While the FLSA also establishes a number of minimum requirements concerning wages, states remain free to enact additional laws that go beyond the Act's basic protections. The federal minimum wage, for instance is $7.25 per hour, but Illinois requires employers to pay their workers at least $8.25 per hour.

Wages must be paid on the regularly scheduled payday for each pay period. While an employer may make certain deductions from wages for uniforms and other necessary trade tools and equipment, it may not do so in a way that reduces a worker's wages below the minimum rate for either regular or overtime pay.


The FLSA permits an employer to pool tips to be shared among employees, but restricts the type of employees who can be tipped out from the pool. Tips may only be pooled among workers who normally receive tips, like waiters, servers, busboys, bartenders and those in similar positions. Cooks, dishwashers, janitors and others who are not customarily tipped cannot share in a pooling arrangement.

At the Chicago Overtime Law Center, our overtime lawyers have decades of experience representing clients in Illinois and throughout the country in overtime, wage, tip and other claims. Our practice is dedicated to assisting employees who have been wrongfully denied the money and protections they deserve. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Chicago FLSA attorneys, please contact us online or at (877) 990-4990.

Chicago Overtime Lawyer Blog - Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)