Overtime pay laws require employers to pay certain employers overtime rates when they work a certain number of hours in a given time period (for instance, over 40 hours in one week). This is governed mostly by the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). Overtime rates are generally calculated at 1 ½ times the normal pay.

However, certain employees are “exempt”, meaning that the employer is not required to pay them overtime rates by law.  These are called overtime exemptions, and usually apply to job positions that are less permanent or are unconventional in terms of scheduling and tasks.

Who Is Exempt from Overtime Pay?

Employees who are considered exempt from overtime pay include:

  • Various employees in the retail/service industry who are paid by commission
  • Service employees who reside at the residence of their employer (such as domestic service workers)
  • Farmworkers and certain agricultural employees
  • Employees of motion picture theaters
  • Various journalism workers, including news engineers, some announcers, and editors
  • Workers who sell vehicles that aren’t employed by manufacturers
  • Some transportation employees (such as taxicab drivers, certain seamen, and different railroad/airway employees)

In most cases, the application of an overtime exemption actually depends on the actual tasks performed by the worker, rather than their title or job description.

What If Overtime Laws Are Violated?

Only exempt employees can have overtime pay withheld from them without any legal issues. All other employees (the “non-exempt” workers) must be paid overtime when they work the required hours. Failure to pay an employee their deserved overtime pay can result in a wage and hour lawsuit. This may result in a damages award to the worker, in order to reimburse them for lost wages and other expenses caused by the violation.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Overtime Pay Laws?

Overtime laws can sometimes require the assistance of a lawyer. You may need to hire a qualified employment attorney if you are experiencing any disputes or conflicts that involve wage and hours laws. Your attorney can provide you with the legal input to help you through the process. Also, when it comes time to appear in court, your lawyer can be on hand to guide you during the meetings and hearings.