One of the most far-reaching laws passed during President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The various provisions of the law now apply to almost every employee in every state in America. This post will discuss those provisions that concern the payment of mandatory overtime compensation.
The basic rule
Simply stated, the FLSA requires employers engaged in interstate commerce with revenues in excess of $500,000 per year to pay their employees 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in a week in excess of 40. The FLSA does not require mandatory overtime pay for work on weekends, holidays or regular days of rest, unless the work performed on such days constitutes overtime, i.e., hours in excess of 40 per week.
Many employers have attempted to avoid the mandatory overtime rules by classifying their employees in ways that appear to fall within the numerous exemptions to the mandatory payment requirement. For example, executive and management employees are not subject to the mandatory overtime rule. However, an employer may deliberately misqualify certain employees as professional, management or executive employees to escape the mandatory overtime requirement.
The Department of Labor, the government agency that administers the FLSA, has promulgated regulations that deny exemptions for such categories unless the employees in those categories actually perform management or executive functions. The regulations contained detailed descriptions of jobs that may be properly exempted from the overtime regulations.
The Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department will frequently sue employers to enforce proper application of the overtime rules. Individual employees may also sue an employer for denying mandatory overtime. In such cases, the plaintiffs can recover both back pay and their attorneys’ fees if they prevail.
Any employee who believes that his or her employer has wrongfully classified them as exempt may wish to consult a knowledgeable employment lawyer for an analysis of the evidence and an opinion on whether the employer can be successfully sued under the FLSA.