One of the principal reasons for business being conducted through a corporation, is for the officers, directors, managers, and shareholders of the corporation to be shielded from personal liability for the company’s failures and mistakes. Absent fraud or comingling, the so-called corporate shield is supposed to protect them from personal liability. This holds true for most business deals gone sour and accidents caused by corporate negligence such as by defective products.
To the surprise of many, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a vehicle for piercing the corporate shield.
Congress enacted the FLSA in 1938 to create and maintain minimum standards of living for workers in industries engaged in interstate commerce. Section 202. Congress attempted to secure this goal, in part, by enacting a prohibition which generally mandated that individuals who work more than 40 hours in a week receive an overtime premium. In essence, the Act provides for the payment of overtime wages calculated at X-1/2 for all hours worked over 40 in a week.
Some employers try to skirt the law through creating a variety of false arrangements, however, the majority of those in violation only do so through innocent ignorance or misunderstanding. In piercing the corporate veil, the FLSA does not draw a distinction between intentional acts and innocent mistakes.
This is not to say that all corporate individuals are necessarily vulnerable to personal liability for FLSA violations. They are not. Basically, only those individuals involved in directing the employee’s methods of work, job duties, and work hours are subject to the liability. Managers are the usual targets.
The FLSA is a potential minefield of risk and danger for the uninitiated. Employers and employees are well-advised to consult with a knowledgeable legal expert to learn their rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
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