While most CAD designers and draftsmen are legally entitled to overtime pay, with the recent surge in manufacturing activity spurred largely by oil and gas related projects, we are seeing more and more instances where CAD designers and draftsmen are being denied proper overtime pay.

The issue of whether overtime pay for CAD / CAM designers and draftsmen is mandatory under state and federal overtime labor laws is not novel, but companies and staffing agencies continue to use pay schemes that violate workers’ rights to full and fair pay for overtime labor.  In most cases, and particularly those where a staffing company is involved, we see designers and draftsmen being paid the same hourly rate for all hours worked (ie. straight time for overtime) instead of time and a half for all hours worked over 40 per week.  The following should help inform those employed in these types of jobs of their overtime pay rights and alert them to possible violations.

The primary issue with Designer/Draftsmen jobs tends to be the misapplication of an exemption (or exception) from the normal overtime pay rules that apply specifically to certain computer employees.  This exemption is aptly known as the Computer Employee Exemption and  has some very specific requirements, ALL of which must be satisfied in order to escape the employer’s overtime pay obligation.

  • The employee must receive a salary of at least $455* ($684 as of 1/1/20) per week or, if paid hourly, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour; AND
  • The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below; AND
  • The employee’s primary duty must consist of:
    1. The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;
    2. The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
    3. The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
    4. A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.

* The Department of Labor under the Obama Administration increased this salary amount to $913 per week effective 12/1/2016; however, this increase was blocked by a court ruling.  Instead, the Trump Administration only increased the salary amount to $684 per week effective 1/1/2020. Please see this page for the latest updates.

It is important to note that the Department of Labor has clearly stated that the computer employee exemption does not cover jobs where the work is highly dependent upon, or facilitated by, the use of computers and computer software programs – specifically mentioning engineers, drafters and others skilled in computer-aided design software.

Because of the relatively high pay rates (whether salary, hourly or day-rate) for Computer Aided Design (CAD) / Mechanical Designer jobs, the failure to calculate and pay overtime wages correctly ends up depriving these workers of substantial amounts of hard-earned overtime pay and unjustly enriching the employer.  Individual claims for such workers mount quickly when they routinely work 10 or more hours of overtime each week and can commonly be in excess of $10,000 to $50,000 – sometimes into the $100,000 range.

Given the significant dollar amounts at stake and the strict time limits imposed by the overtime pay laws, procrastination can be costly.  Do not rely on your boss or Human Resources for this critical information.   If you have any doubts as to your entitlement to overtime, contact the overtime pay experts at The Lore Law Firm for a free and confidential review.

Call 1-866-559-0400, email mlore@overtime-flsa.com or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation form for a FREE and CONFIDENTIAL review of your circumstances, because time is money.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.