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How Do I Know If I Am Exempt From Overtime?

A woman working overtime late at night

Know Your Rights

Are you exempt from overtime? Or does your employer classify you as exempt from overtime? It is crucial to understand your rights and obligations as an employee. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Many employers misclassify their workers as exempt to deny them overtime wages. But certain factors must be satisfied to legally classify a worker as exempt from overtime under the FLSA. In this blog, we will discuss all of these factors in detail so that you can better understand your rights as an employee.

Are You Paid a Salary or Hourly?

One of the main factors used to determine if a worker is exempt from overtime or not is the type of wages they are paid. To classify an employee as exempt under the FLSA, an employee must be paid asalary. Thus, if you are paid anhourly wage, your employer must pay you overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in a work week

But even if you are paid a salary, your salary must meet certain thresholds to be considered exempt from overtime. First, your salary must be at least $684 per week. If your salary is less than this amount, your employer cannot classify you as exempt, and you must be paid time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 in a work week.

Further, your employer cannot simply pay you a “sham” salary just to deny you overtime. Rather, your salary must be “reasonably related” or similar to what your actual earnings are. Thus, if your employer only pays you a base “salary” plus additional wages (like additional hourly pay, bonuses, per diems, etc.), you may be entitled to overtime wages.

Finally, even if you are paid a salary, your employer can only classify you as exempt from overtime if you perform certain job duties.

What Are Your Job Duties?

In addition to salary levels, job duties must be considered when determining if an employee is exempt from overtime pay. Under the FLSA, employees may be exempt from overtime if they perform “executive,” “administrative,” or “professional” duties.

Executive duties involve managing a business or department, having the authority to make decisions, supervising other employees, and having the authority to hire or fire other employees. Administrative duties include non-manual work, such as planning and organizing an organization's operations, processes, or procedures and providing advice and support to other staff. Professional duties involve working in a field that requires specialized knowledge or an advanced degree, such as medicine or law.

If your job duties do not meet the criteria for any of these categories, you may not be properly exempt under the FLSA, and you may be entitled to overtime pay.

How Much Time Do You Spend On Non-Exempt Activities?

Even if an employee is paid a salary and meets the job duties criteria for an overtime exemption, they may still be eligible for overtime pay if their job requires them to spend a significant amount of time on non-exempt activities. For example, if an employee who is paid a salary and meets the criteria for executive or administrative duties spends more than 20% of their workweek performing manual labor that does not fit into these categories, then they may be eligible for overtime pay.

Work With the Lawyers For the Workers®

If you believe you should be eligible for overtime, but your employer is denying you those valuable wages, turn to the team at Josephson Dunlap. We are the lawyers for the workers®, and we will fight for your rights.


Learn more or get started by calling (888) 742-7242 or visiting our website.

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