Wage and Hour Law

(901) 881-6205

Email me

What are the wage laws in Tennessee?

In Tennessee there are two basic wage and hour laws that affect employers and employees.  The first, and by far the most far reaching, is the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The second is Tennessee’s Wage Regulations Act.

The FLSA has been around since 1938 and generally establishes limits on child labor, minimum wages and the right to receive overtime wages for workers.  Some of its highlights include:

In order to determine if an employee is eligible to receive overtime compensation or even minimum wage, the FLSA classifies employees as either exempt or nonexempt.  Making this determination, whether as an employer or employee, is not for the faint of heart and the penalties for getting it wrong can be severe.  For example, a common misconception is that because an employee is salaried, that employee is not entitled to overtime. This is simply wrong.  The law looks to the actual job functions and how an employee is paid to determine if the classification is proper.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can look at the website maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor and its guidance on classifications.

A second major failing of employers is miscalculating the employee's regular rate of pay.  This results in miscalculating the overtime premium and shorting the employee of the rightful amount of overtime pay.

Often, when an employer misclassifies its employees or miscalculates the pay rate, it does so across a broad range of employees. The law allows employees to bring representative actions on behalf of all of the other similarly situated employees.

Damages for violation of the federal wage and hour law include your lost wages for the past 2 or 3 years, potentially doubled and attorney's fees and expenses.

The second major law is the Tennessee Wage Regulations Act.  For all that the FLSA does, it does not cover some areas of wage payment at all.  For example, it does not deal at all with breaks or lunch times, nor does it deal with the timing of payment or the payment final wages.  For these things, you have to look to the Wage Regulation Act.


If you have questions about this information, please do not hesitate to contact our office.