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  Salaried Employees and Overtime Pay

3/12/2012

Salaried Employees and Overtime Pay

Perhaps the biggest misconception I've seen among employees is that salaried employees are not entitled to overtime pay.  This is not necessarily true!  It's not the method of payment (i.e. salary vs. hourly) that determines eligibility for overtime pay;  it's the employee's job duties.

Saying that all salaried employees are exempt from receiving overtime pay is like saying that all Americans over age 35 are president of the United States.  It's true that you must be U.S.-born and over the age of 35 to be president, but more is required than that.  The same holds true for salaried employees.

Rather than "salaried" versus "hourly," the real analysis should be "exempt" versus "non-exempt."  A person's status as "exempt" refers to his employer's obligation to pay overtime.  If an employees falls within one of the several exemptions (and meets the other criteria), his employer is not required to pay overtime.  This is true for many professions, such as doctors, outside salesmen, and teachers.

I see the most confusion surrounding "managers."  Nearly every employer designates one or more people to hold this position.  But rest assured, the job responsibilities among those called "manager" vary drastically!  If a person has actual authority to make important decisions, supervises employees, and/or performs other jobs of significance to the general operations of the company, she may well fall within the management exemption.  Thus, the employer would not owe her overtime pay. 

What is VERY common, however, is for an employee to be called manager yet perform  the exact same functions as her hourly (e.g. non-exempt) counterparts.  Even if the manager performs SOME amount of work that would be considered exempt under federal law, she is probably still entitled to overtime pay because her primary duties do not meet the strict definition of the exemption.

So what's an employee to do?  You guessed it...call an employment lawyer.  Only an employment lawyer experienced in overtime wage claims can tell you if you're entitled to overtime pay.  Don't let the word "salary" fool you!  You may be entitled to back wages even if you were paid on a salary basis.

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