Fair Labor Standard Act in Texas for Exempt & Non-Exempt Employees

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The Lone Star State generally follows the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The state can make laws that are more generous than the federal FLSA, but not less so. The FLSA regulates minimum wage, overtime pay and additional workplace protections.

Salaried employees in Texas, including those in management, are considered “exempt” employees and hourly workers are “non-exempt" employees. Non-exempt workers typically do not get overtime pay, but this depends on the job and the worker’s regular rate of pay.

What Is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that sets minimum wage and overtime pay standards, as well as other protections in the workplace. It applies to most companies and workers. The FLSA has several key employment law provisions for workers. They include:

  • Minimum wage:‌ Employers must pay covered workers at least the federal minimum wage, which in 2023 is $7.25 per hour.
  • Overtime pay:‌ Employers must pay non-exempt employees time and a half for hours worked over 40 hours per workweek.
  • Child labor laws:‌ The FLSA regulates the employment of minors by placing restrictions on the types of jobs they can perform and the number of hours they can work in a day or workweek.
  • Record keeping:‌ Employers must keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid to employees.
  • Equal pay for equal work:‌ The FLSA prohibits discrimination in pay based on gender for jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility and that are performed under similar working conditions.
  • Coverage:‌ Most workers in the U.S. are covered by the federal FLSA, although there are some exceptions for specific industries and job titles.

What Are Texas Labor Board Laws for Salaried Employees?

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) enforces labor laws in the Lone Star State, including those covered by the FLSA. Salaried employees in management are typically considered to be exempt workers, as are independent contractors, state employees and administrative staff.

Exemptions for salaried employees depend on their rate of pay and job type. Those making more than $455 per week are exempt from overtime provisions.

If an individual is in an executive position and manages two or more full-time workers, they are exempt from overtime rules. To be exempt, they must spend no more than 20 percent of their time doing other job duties or 40 percent if they work in retail.

What Rights Do Workers Have in Texas?

Texas state law generally follows federal FLSA guidelines, so workers in Texas have the right to:

  • Minimum wage:‌ Texas hourly employees must be paid at least federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour in 2023. The state minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage as of 2023. Texas does not allow municipalities or counties to set a minimum wage hourly rate that is different from the state minimum wage.
  • Overtime pay:‌ Hourly employees working more than 40 hours per workweek, have the right to time and a half for each overtime hour.
  • Safe and healthy workplace:‌ Companies must keep the workplace free from hazards that may cause serious physical injury or death to employees.
  • Equal pay for equal work:‌ Workers have the right to be paid the same wage as others doing the same job, regardless of gender.
  • Right to be free from discrimination and harassment:‌ Workers have the right to be free from discrimination and harassment based one of the legally protected characteristics—race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability.
  • Take leave for specific reasons:‌ Workers have the right to take leave for qualifying events, such as the birth or adoption of a child or a serious health condition.

How to File a Labor Complaint in Texas

If a salaried employee believes that their employer has incorrectly classified them and kept from receiving overtime, or otherwise violated their rights, they can file a complaint in a number of ways, including:

  • File a complaint with the TWC if they believe their employer has violated minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor or any other labor standards.
  • File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if they believe their employer has discriminated against them based on the protected characteristics of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
  • File a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if they believe their employer has not provided a safe and healthy workplace. OSHA is the federal agency responsible for enforcing safety and health standards in the workplace.
  • Seek legal advice from an employment lawyer who can make them aware of their employee rights, evaluate their options and represent them in court.

When filing a complaint, the employee should gather information and documents supporting their case, including pay stubs and records of the hours they worked. They should also prepare to give a clear and detailed explanation of the circumstances under which they believe a violation took place.

Does Texas Require Meal and Rest Breaks for Employees?

Texas does not have meal or rest break requirements, unlike some other states. The FLSA does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to their employees—this is up to the employer’s discretion.

Some municipalities in the state of Texas have passed break ordinances. For example, in 2010, Austin started requiring at least one 10-minute break for each four-hour shift for those working in construction.

If a company does provide breaks, they must pay the employee for those breaks that last 20 minutes or more, per the FLSA, which considers that to be compensable working time.

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