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Who Is Exempt From Overtime Pay - morgan and morgan lawyers
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Who Is Exempt From Overtime Pay?

Who Is Exempt From Overtime Pay?

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Who Is Exempt From Overtime Pay?

When you’re denied overtime pay but don’t fit the profile of an exempt employee, that is commonly known as wage theft. Unfortunately, it’s an all too frequent occurrence in the United States. Many workers don’t even realize they are wrongfully being denied overtime pay and are, in fact, being taken advantage of by their employer. Wage theft in specific industries is more prevalent than in others. Here are the top sectors where employees experience wage theft:

  • Technical support
  • Call centers
  • Food industry
  • Health care
  • Delivery drivers
  • Financial services

If you’re asking the question, “who is exempt from overtime pay,” you may be the type of person that doesn’t like to be walked all over. You don’t have to be a victim of companies or employers who abuses their employees this way. Our labor and employment lawyers can work with you to develop a strategy to fight back and gain the compensation you’ve rightfully earned. Federal laws govern who is exempt from overtime pay. Still, it also depends on other factors like your specific job tasks and how many hours you work every week.        

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  • What is overtime pay?

    Overtime pay is the compensation you get when you work more than your normal working hours. For example, if you work your standard 40 hours but are required to work another ten during that week, you should be eligible for 10 hours of overtime pay. Overtime pay is pay that is time and a half your regular wages. For example, say you make $20 per hour. Your overtime pay would be $30 per hour for all hours worked over 40 within the workweek.

    The FLSA was enacted in the 1930s by President Franklin Roosevelt with the goal of preventing employers from taking advantage of their employees. He said employees should get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Before the FLSA, unethical employers could overwork their employees without being fairly compensated, and this gave them an undue edge over competitors who treated their employees better. This action also helped more people get into the workforce after the Great Depression because it was cheaper to hire more people than pay a few at time and a half.

  • What should you do if you’re being denied overtime wages?

    If you think you’re wrongfully being denied overtime pay, the first step is to discuss this with your employer. Be prepared to make an argument as to why you’re entitled to overtime pay. It could be possible that your employer isn’t aware of the laws or has you incorrectly classified as an exempt employee. The next step would be to contact your state labor board, where you will learn how to file a complaint against your employer. However, you don’t have to do this step to file a lawsuit for overtime pay violations.

    When you contact our labor and employment lawyers, we can analyze the details of your case and are experts who understand the complexities of state and federal labor laws. You may have a solid case against your employer, and we can file a lawsuit on your behalf to recover your earnings. Every worker should be entitled to payment for hard hours worked.

  • What type of employee is exempt from overtime pay?

    Typically, employees that are considered white-collar workers are exempt from overtime pay as guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA.) Many states have their own wage and hourly-rate laws that add an extra layer of complexity to who is and who is not exempt from overtime pay. White-collar workers are usually professionals, executives, and administrators. However, when in doubt about your classification, you should speak to one of our lawyers.

    Generally speaking, to be considered exempt from overtime pay, you are paid a salary, not hourly wages, and have to earn over the standard salary level for your state’s and federal laws and perform duties at a professional, administrative, or executive level. It’s important to note here that some unscrupulous employers will give out fancy titles, like manager or supervisor, to skirt around labor laws when in fact, they have these employees regularly performing routine tasks like stocking products or operating cash registers. Job titles do not define exempt status. Instead, there are complex standards that must be met.

    Other workers that are typically not entitled to overtime pay are:

    • Independent contractors
    • Volunteers
    • Outside salespersons
    • Newspaper deliverers
    • Small farmworkers
    • Personal companions
    • Babysitters
    • Workers you have in your home like housekeepers
  • How is overtime calculated for salaried employees that do not meet the minimum standards for exempt status?

    Suppose you earn under a certain yearly salary (which changes every three years). In that case, you are not considered exempt and are due overtime pay for overtime hours worked. As of January 1. 2020, if you make less than $684 a week as a salaried employee and work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you’re due overtime pay for those hours. It’s also important to understand that if an employer simply states that no overtime will be paid or that overtime must be authorized to receive overtime pay, it does not automatically mean they are not obligated to pay overtime for hours worked under the FLSA.

  • If I’m a highly paid “blue-collar” worker, does that mean I’m exempt from overtime pay?

    The amount you earn does not define the exempt status. If you’re not a manager and perform work that involves repetitive manual labor with your hands that requires physical skill and energy, you don’t fit the definition of an exempt employee. Here are some positions that are considered non-exempt, thus eligible for overtime wages no matter how highly paid you are:

    • Laborers
    • Plumbers
    • Ironworkers
    • Craftsmen
    • Operating engineers
    • Construction workers
    • Longshoremen
    • Maintenance
    • Carpenters
    • Electricians
    • Mechanics

    Police, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders are likewise considered non-exempt employees.

  • What kind of “loopholes” do employers use to avoid overtime pay?

    Some companies and employers use “loopholes” to avoid paying overtime to eligible employees, and it’s an outright scam. Here are some examples you should look out for when it comes to how you’re paid:

    Misclassification - As mentioned earlier, simply adding the word “manager” to your name tag doesn’t make you exempt from overtime pay. If you do not have the autonomy to make important decisions or suggestions as to the hiring and firing of others at the company, that’s not a proper manager. Furthermore, if your regular duties include lots of manual labor, that would be something to question as it concerns an accurate classification.

    Not counting work hours - Some employers try to avoid paying overtime for hours you actually have to work. Some examples are asking you to perform work before clocking in or asking you to keep working after you’ve clocked out. They may ask you to continue working during your scheduled, unpaid breaks or ask you to continue working on projects after you’ve gone home for the day. They may not count traveling to and from client meetings or avoid paying for mandatory training required for your job. Suppose your employer requires you to continue to work off the clock or doesn’t count travel time for work-related projects. In that case, this is not acceptable, and it’s in violation of state and federal laws.

    Miscalculating work hours - Your work hours should be counted per week, not per pay period. An employer may try to rationalize that since you worked 50 hours one week then only 30 the next, they don’t have to pay overtime for the first week. That’s not true, and it’s illegal. We can help you recover lost wages if your employer has used this tactic.    

  • How are overtime pay cases settled? 

    In a successful scenario, we can help you win back all your unpaid overtime wages and, in some instances, even get back twice as much as was owed for unpaid overtime going back two years before the claim was filed. Getting double what was owed is called liquidated damages under the FLSA and makes up for the interest.   

    Employees are often surprised that they have a valid overtime claim because they are paid a salary and therefore not entitled to overtime pay according to their company’s HR department. Or, perhaps they signed something that states they waive their right to overtime pay. You cannot “waive” your rights to overtime pay if you qualify for it because it’s federal law. If you are not paid overtime pay to which you are entitled, you should be able to receive it. It’s that simple.

    The only way employers can get out of paying double damages in an overtime pay dispute is if they can show two things. The first is they must prove their actions were in good faith. The second is that they have to prove they had reasonable grounds to believe they were acting according to FLSA laws.

    Here is an example from 2011. In the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, a Delaware poultry processing plant was ordered to pay back wages to workers that had to take time “donning and doffing” protective gear to be in compliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s sanitary regulations along with the Occupational Safety Health Administration’s safety regulations. Since donning and doffing gear before and after shifts was a necessary function of the job, the workers were awarded their back pay. However, they failed to establish that the employer’s actions were “willful” in regards to ignoring FLSA law, so the workers only received back pay for two years, not double damages.

  • Contact a Morgan & Morgan labor law attorney for your overtime back pay  

    When you have questions about wage theft, our labor law attorneys are here to help. We’ve handled thousands of cases just like yours involving illegal and unfair labor practices against employees. In fact, our law firm has dealt with more labor law cases than any other firm in the country. With our vast experience and resources, we can help workers nationwide who have been victimized by unscrupulous employers. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.   

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Last updated on May 31, 2023

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