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What is an "Exempt" Employee?

Most job offers begin with the discussion of pay, either hourly or salaried. Have you ever had an employer tell you that because you are paid a salary-that is, a set amount each week or month, even if your actual hours vary-that they don't have to pay you overtime? That may not be true if 

you fall under the definition of a non-exempt employee as outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Fair Labor Standards Act was adopted to ensure that all workers get fair pay for their work. There is no limit to how many hours one worker can work in a week or a pay period. An employer can require as many hours as they wish, as long as the employees are properly compensated. Exempt and non-exempt employees differ not by their work schedules or how their pay is distributed, but by the type of job they do.

Under the law, exempt positions include those that require advanced degrees, creativity, independent decision-making, administrators and executives. Non-exempt positions include assistants, coordinators, skilled trade workers, technical, clerical, and production workers.

Because the law defines these positions differently, they must be managed differently by supervisors. Exempt employees are not required to keep specific records of how many hours they work, and they don't receive overtime pay. Non-exempt positions are eligible for overtime-even if they are salaried-and keep track of hours worked.

If an employee is misclassified by their employer and misses out on earned overtime pay because of this error, they are eligible for back pay, and the employer may have to also pay fines.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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