State and federal law generally require most employers to pay their employees overtime wages unless the employee is exempt. One such exemption exists for certain salaried employees. However, just because an employer has decided to pay you a salary, does not necessarily mean that you are automatically exempt from overtime wage laws.

In order to be exempt, you must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week and be deemed an administrative, executive, or professional employee. These three classifications contain various elements, each of which must be met before an employee may properly be paid a salary and deemed exempt from overtime wage laws:

Executive exemption:

  • the employee’s primary duty must be managing the enterprise, or managing a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise;
  • the employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and
  • the employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight.

Administrative exemption:

  • the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
  • the employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Professional exemption:

  • the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment;
  • the advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
  • the advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.

Employers will do anything to avoid paying employees overtime wages. One common practice is paying an employee who does not meet the above duty tests an annual salary, instead of an hourly wage, in order to have the employee work more than forty hours per week without any additional compensation. This is called misclassification and it is a growing trend.

Even if you are paid a salary, if you do not meet one of the above tests, you may be entitled to overtime wages. Enright Law represents employees whose overtime wages have been unlawfully withheld. Contact my office so that I can review your employment situation and determine if your employer owes you wages.


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