Employers must adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act in classifying their employees as either exempt or non-exempt. Misinterpreting or ignoring the regulations can lead to penalties, fines and the payment of back wages where applicable.
If you believe your employer is deliberately classifying you as an exempt employee to keep from having to pay you for the overtime hours you are working, it is time to reach out for legal assistance.
Exempt or non-exempt?
One of the main differences between an exempt and a non-exempt employee is in the realm of compensation. Under the FLSA regulations, exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime pay. For classification as exempt, the employee must satisfy three qualifications:
- The employee must receive an annual salary
- The employee must meet or exceed the annual salary threshold of $47,476
- In terms of work, the employee must qualify as an Executive, an Administrator, a Professional or a Computer Professional
A non-exempt employee will not meet all of these qualifications. For example, if you are an administrative assistant whose annual salary is $45,000, you should have classification as a non-exempt employee. If you work more than 40 hours a week, you qualify for overtime pay, which must be at least one and one-half times your regular rate of pay.
The Department of Labor changed the Minimum Salary Threshold Test effective December 1, 2016. The DOL found the previous level of $23,660 annually set in 2004 to be too low. Any employee who does not qualify under the three tests must receive at least the federal minimum wage for the first 40 hours worked each week. He or she must receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 worked in a week's time.
Employment laws can be confusing. You may wish to consult with an attorney experienced with FSLA rules to find out how they may apply to the situation you are facing with your employer. You must protect your rights as an employee, and if an error in your status exists, you must get rectification.