Overtime Pay Exemptions

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Most Common Employment Law Issues:

What types of employees are entitled to overtime pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay their employee overtime wages when they work more than 40 hours in one week. When working overtime, the employee is entitled to a rate of 1 ½ times their regular hourly wage. Overtime pay is required for most jobs, though certain jobs are exempt from FLSA overtime regulations. 

FLSA overtime exemptions generally apply to high-level employees who are technically skilled or exercise a great deal of judgment when performing their duties. For this reason, the overtime exemptions are sometimes known as “white-collar exemptions”. They are designed to exempt white-collar workers while allowing blue-collar workers to collect overtime pay.

Which jobs are exempted from overtime requirements?

The term “exempt” applies to jobs and employees that do not qualify for overtime pay. That is, their employers are not required under FLSA to pay them for overtime rates. “Non-exempt” applies to jobs that are eligible for overtime pay.

Jobs categories that are exempt from overtime requirements include:

While these types of employees generally do not receive overtime pay, they may or may not fit the exact descriptions of FLSA exemption rules. Also, there may be various state laws that alter your exemption status. Therefore you may wish to inquire with a lawyer regarding the specific details of your job category.

If my job is not listed as an FLSA exemption, can I still be considered exempt?

Possibly, since the FLSA exemptions also apply to employees who:

For exemption purposes, “salary” means that the employee is paid a basic minimum amount for their work that does not change unless specified. “Duties associated with exempt employees” fall into three categories:

  • Executive duties: Usually associated with the management of a department and/or authorities associated with decision-making such as hiring
  • Administrative duties: The performance of non-manual office work related to overseeing operations
  • Professional duties: Jobs or positions involving creative skill or requiring additional education and certification

It is the employee’s primary duties, rather than their job title that determines whether they are exempt or not. So if a person is listed as a “supervisor”, but does not actually perform supervising duties, they will still be entitled to overtime wages. The opposite is also true- if a person job title is listed as “secretary”, but they perform executive duties, they may be exempt.   

To summarize: when considering whether an employee is exempt from overtime requirements, a court will first look to see if their type of employment is exempted under the job categories listed above. Then they will look at the person’s salary and duties to confirm exemption status.

Do I need a lawyer for overtime pay violations?

Withholding overtime pay is a serious violation. In any overtime wage dispute, exemption status is crucial. As you can see, FLSA exemption rules can be complex, so it is important to contact an employment lawyer for legal advice. Before being allowed to file a lawsuit, the employee is usually required to file their complaint with an administrative agency. An attorney can help guide you through the proper filing processes and provide representation in a court of law if needed. 

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Last Modified: 08-20-2014 11:59 AM PDT

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