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Individual Liability Under the FLSA a/k/a “Can I Sue my Employer and my Boss Individually?”

One of the many beneficial aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is that in some cases an employee may sue not only his employer but also his boss on an individual basis. This is strikingly different than other employment laws.

Under the FLSA, an employee may recover unpaid overtime from multiple employers, as the statute “contemplates that there may be several simultaneous employers who are responsible for compliance with the FLSA.” Under the FLSA, the term “employer” is defined broadly to include “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “accordingly held that the FLSA contemplates that a covered employee may file suit directly against an employer that fails to pay him the statutory wage, or may make a derivative claim against any person who (1) acts on behalf of that employer and (2) asserts control over conditions of the employee’s employment.”

“The overwhelming weight of authority is that a corporate officer with operational control of a corporation’s covered enterprise is an employer along with the corporation, jointly and severally liable under the FLSA for unpaid wages.” The test to determine whether an individual may be sued include whether the individual: (1) had the power to hire and fire the employees, (2) supervised and controlled employee work schedules or conditions of employment, (3) determined the rate and method of payment, and (4) maintained employment records. However, no single factor is dispositive.

If you have a question about whether your boss can be sued individually under the FLSA, contact us.