By Jon Hyman
Jul. 7, 2016
According to Boy Genius Report, archeologists in Iraq recently discovered a 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian tablet, which the site artfully describes as a “pay stub for beer due.” If the interpretation of the tablet is to be believed, ancient Mesopotamians were paid in beer for their labor.
“That was 3000 B.C., and this is 2016 A.D.,” you’re saying to yourself. “What possible relevance does this story have to modern employers?” The answer may surprise you.
Believe it or not, it is not illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act to pay employees in kind, that is, with food or lodging. Thus, this story helps illustrate this lesser known provision of the FLSA.
Section 3(m) of the FLSA provides:
“Wage” paid to any employee includes the reasonable cost, as determined by the Administrator, to the employer of furnishing such employee with board, lodging, or other facilities, if such board, lodging, or other facilities are customarily furnished by such employer to his employees.
The leading case on the issue of meal credits as FLSA wages is Herman v. Collis Foods, Inc. (6th Cir. 1999), which establishes that an employer who wishes to claim the section 3(m) meal credit must establish each of the following four factors:
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