A mistake that is more than occasionally made is that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a panacea for a variety of different employment practices to which employees object. The FLSA essentially requires only two things: (1) That employees be paid the minimum wage; and (2) that if employees work over the maximum hours for their workweek or Section 7(k) work period, they must be paid overtime. One thing the FLSA does not do is to prevent employers from flexing employee schedules in order to avoid the payment of any overtime.
So James Norris, a corrections officer with the Missouri Department of Corrections, discovered when he sued the State claiming FLSA violations. Norris’ claim was that the State implemented a flex time program where employees working long hours were required to take time off during their work periods so that by the end of the work period, they would not have worked more hours than the overtime threshold. Norris contended that the flex time system violated the FLSA.
Not so, said a federal court trial judge. The judge ruled that “the FLSA does not prevent employers from managing employee work schedules during the week to prevent the accrual of federal overtime. For example, an employer may require corrections officers requesting leave to deplete their accrued balances of federal overtime prior to using state vacation time. Thus, Norris’ claim is not cognizable under the FLSA.”
Norris v. Missouri Department of Corrections, 2014 WL 1056906 (E.D. Mo. 2014).