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Fair Labor Standards Act in the construction industry

Warmer weather has reached Michigan, which means so, too, has construction season. Like other employees in other fields, seasonal construction workers rely on their pay to support their families. Yet, since the construction industry differs significantly from professions that are office-based, many construction companies choose to take advantage of their employees, which leaves them with lost wages and unfair treatment.

Fortunately, the Fair Labor Standards Act seeks to ensure that these workers are protected from unfair practices. Under this law, which only applies to construction companies that have gross sales of $500,000 or more per year, employers in this field must adhere to wage and overtime laws. So, for example, even construction workers who work more than 40 hours a week must be paid overtime if they are considered a non-exempt worker.

Although these issues do arise from time-to-time, there are common issues seen across the construction industry. First, employers often short their employees' hours by failing to count rain delays and down time as payable work. Similarly, employers often fail to accurately record hours worked and thereby shortchange employees who work before or after their shift. Second, far too many construction companies fail to pay employees who work during their meal breaks. Under the law, these meal breaks should relieve a worker of all of his or her job duties for a period of time.

If you, your co-workers, and/or your union believe that you are being treated in a way that violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, then you need to take action. You could file a complaint with the government, but this often doesn't help you recover the damage that has been caused to you. If you want to learn more about what you can do to stop unfair practices and make yourself whole again, then you may want to discuss your situation with an employment law professional.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "The Construction Industry Under the Fair Labor Standards Act," accessed on Apr. 3, 2017

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