The Evolving Workplace: Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees

When Congress updated the FLSA overtime law (Fair Labor Standards Act) in 1994, they did so with an eye to updating the changing face of the American employment landscape. Advancing technology has not only simplified the average Americans life in many ways, but it has also blurred the lines between what used to be known as “white collar” and “blue collar” employees.

It used to be that those who worked in the office were the managers and those that worked in the field were manual laborers. Along with the standards of dress the differences between them also included their roles: those who did what they were told, and their managers who established their daily routines and had the authority to hire, fire, and discipline the non-exempt employees who must be paid overtime wages under them, or make important decisions concerning the companies they worked for.

In the contemporary workplace, though, we now routinely have employees who formerly qualified for the employee exemption who wear suits and handle a lot of the everyday details and data for their companies, but they do not set their own schedules or have discretionary and managerial authority over other workers. Often paid less than twice the minimum wage, these workers sometimes found themselves with vestigial titles that no longer meant what they once did. In an effort to combat the unfairness of non-managers being required to work overtime without receiving overtime pay, the newly updated legislation defines exempt employees by their duties rather than their titles.

The current FLSA overtime law has left many employers confused about who is exempt and how much they are required to pay. As employees become aware of the changes in the law, overtime lawsuits are increasing as the courts seek to interpret the laws for everyone. All of this is even more of a muddle when you add in the state overtime laws that some states have enacted to further protect their workers.

If you believe that your employer has wrongfully not  paid you for overtime you worked, use our Case Evaluation Form to give us the specifics of your case, and one of the experienced overtime lawyers will be happy to discuss the merits of your claim with you.

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.