Employees Misclassified as ExemptNo matter how much an employee may enjoy their line of work, it is doubtful that they would willingly choose to work for free. If an employee puts in time at work, they deserve to be compensated fully and properly for their efforts. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. This issue is especially prevalent for those employees who expect to receive overtime pay. If you have been told that you are not entitled to overtime pay because you are an “exempt” employee or an independent contractor, you should make sure this is legally correct. You deserve to be compensated for the hours you have worked. To get help with your unpaid wages claim, contact an experienced overtime attorney. The Lore Law Firm is an employment law firm with extensive experience helping clients who have been misclassified as exempt. When an employee is misclassified as exempt, it may cause them to lose out on the overtime pay they are owed. We understand that every paycheck counts for working Americans, which is why we work to defend the rights of all employees. With over 25 years of experience helping employees across the country, we are proud to provide clients with the trusted legal representation they deserve.
What Are Exempt and Nonexempt Employees?Employees are sorted into two categories when it comes to overtime pay. An employee may be considered either exempt or nonexempt from the laws governing overtime pay. It is crucial that employers and employees know the difference between exempt and nonexempt status so that employees are compensated properly for overtime hours worked.
Exempt EmployeesExempt employees are not required to receive overtime pay. Exempt employees can be broken into the following main categories set forth by the federal wage and hour regulations:
- Executive Exemption: To qualify for this exemption, an employee must be paid at least $35,568 yearly or $684 a week on a salary basis and their primary duties must entail managing the company or department and must direct the work of at least two other full-time employees. Additionally, this employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees and the company should use this employee’s recommendations when making personnel decisions.
- Administrative Exemption: To be eligible for this exemption, the employee must be paid at least $35,568 yearly or $684 a week on a salary basis and their primary duties must be office or non-manual work related to the management of the employer or customers. Their job duties should include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment in regards to matters of significance. Employees classified as administrative assistants, such as clerical workers or secretaries, usually do not fall under this exemption.
- Professional Exemption: Employees who qualify for this exemption must have advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning and must have extensive years of study in this area. Employees who often fall under this exemption include doctors, accountants, professors, and engineers. The salary basis rule does not apply to doctors (or those licensed to practice medicine), lawyers or teachers.
- Computer Employee Exemption: To qualify for this exemption, an employee must make more than $27.63 an hour, or be paid at least $35,568 yearly or $684 a week on a salary basis, working as a computer systems analyst, programmer, or software engineer. This exemption does not apply to help desk workers or employees who repair computer hardware and other computer-related devices.
- Outside Sales Exemption: This only applies to employees whose primary job is to make sales or obtain signed contracts for services. The employees must be customarily and regularly making sales outside of their place of business. Employees who almost always work out of a corporate office would not typically qualify for this exemption. There is no minimum salary requirement for employees doing outside sales.
- Highly Compensated Exemption: This applies to employees whose primary job includes performing at least one duty that would fall under the executive, administrative or professional exemption and they must make a minimum of $107,432 in total annual compensation.
Nonexempt EmployeesNonexempt employees are any employees who do not qualify for any of the exemptions set forth by the wage and hour regulations. While it is a common misconception that nonexempt employees must not have a salary, that is not the case. A nonexempt employee may be salaried or paid hourly, day-rate or piece-rate. These employees must be paid overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. If you are unsure whether you are considered an exempt or nonexempt employee, a knowledgeable overtime pay attorney may be able to help.
How Are Employees Misclassified as Exempt?In most cases, an employee is not misclassified as exempt from overtime pay by accident. The misclassification of an employee as exempt can sometimes be an action taken by an employer deliberately in order to be able to withhold the overtime pay owed to that employee. If you do not have any of the characteristics of an exempt employee but are not being paid overtime for your extra hours, you should contact an overtime pay lawyer as soon as possible – because there are important time limits that apply to any claim you may have for back wages. If you are unsure if you have been misclassified as exempt, the following are different ways your employer may illegally misclassify you:
Inflated Job TitlesEmployers will dish out job titles such as “assistant manager” or “supervisor” to justify not paying their staff overtime pay. Even if an employee receives a pay raise with this new title, if their duties do not change and they hold no authority over any other employees at the company, then they do not qualify for an exemption.
Salaried WorkersCompanies often tell employees that they are not eligible for overtime pay because they are salaried, but that is not always the case. In fact, many salaried workers qualify for overtime pay unless your primary job duties fall into any of the exemption categories.
Independent Contractor MisclassificationBecause independent contractors are not required to be paid overtime pay, many companies will misclassify employees this way to avoid paying them additional wages. You may be an employee and not an independent contractor if:
- The company has a high-level control and instruction over your work
- You do not have the freedom to make your own schedule and your hours are set by the employer
- You are provided with the tools and materials necessary to perform your job by the employer
- You primarily work for one company
Damages You May Be Owed after Being Misclassified as ExemptIf your employer has misclassified you as exempt, you may be owed financial compensation for your losses. The damages you may be eligible to collect include:
- Lost Wages: Employees can collect up to one hundred percent of the wages that have been withheld from them by their employer.
- Additional Damages: Employers may also be required to pay the employee an equal amount of the improperly withheld wages – called liquidated damages – to compensate or the amount of time they have waited to receive the funds they are owed.
Why Hire an Overtime Pay Lawyer?Hiring an overtime pay attorney has more benefits than just helping you get back the wages you are owed. The following are some of the benefits clients receive when working with one of our skilled overtime pay lawyers:
- Answers to all questions concerning the claim
- Adherence to all crucial deadlines
- Help to build a strong claim by gathering crucial information and evidence
- Trusted legal counsel
- Personalized service