There’s been some talk lately about whether or not state employees are covered under the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The short answer is yes.
When the law was first passed, it was not intended to cover government employees. In 1966, the Act was amended to cover certain government employees in certain conditions. In 1976, in National League of Cities v. Usery (426 U.S. 833 (1976)), the US Supreme Court ruled that the FLSA did not cover government employees doing traditional government-employee-type work, effectively ending the employees’ protection under FLSA.
However, Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (469 U.S. 528 (1985)) effectively reversed National League of Cities. It clearly states that employees of state and local governments are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. And given the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, no state legislation can override federal law. So even if our legislators rush through an emergency bill that attempts to block FLSA protections for state employees, it would not stand up against federal law.
Note: This is part of a series of posts detailing the 2009 Pennsylvania budget impasse. To see all posts in this series, click here.