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Understanding overtime exemptions under the FLSA

Among the most important federal regulations that govern employers and employees are the mandatory overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA was passed in 1938 during the Great Depression to ensure that workers received a fair minimum wage and that workers received paid overtime if they worked more than a specified number of hours in a week. The issue that probably causes more disputes than any other portion of these regulations is the question of an employee's eligibility for mandatory overtime pay. Employers have been trying to limit the application of the requirement, and employees and their representatives have been trying to expand the reach of this provision.

Currently, the regulation requires that all workers who are not exempt from the coverage of the rule are entitled to receive paid overtime at 1-1/2 times their regular rate of pay for every hour worked in excess of forty during a normal work week. The regulation also exempts many types of employment from this requirement, and these exemptions are the source of most disputes. The general rule for overtime exemption is that management and professional employees are not entitled to overtime. Other classes of exempt employees are outside sales employees and employees making more than $107,432 per year.

Employers sometimes go to great lengths to give employees management-sounding titles, even though their work does not involve management of any kind. This approach is often frustrated by the rule that an employee's classification as a managerial employee must meet certain substantive bona fide tests concerning the employee's actual job duties. If the job title is not supported by the employee's actual duties, the employee will be deemed non-exempt and will be entitled to receive both a minimum wage and paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 per week.

In some cases, the exemption rules under the FLSA can be quite complex. Anyone with questions may wish to consult an experienced labor lawyer for clarification.

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