Exempt Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts a variety of employees from wage, hour and overtime laws. Exempt employees include:

  • executives, administrative personnel, professionals and some computer workers;
  • outside salespeople—i.e., those who sell away from the employer’s place of business, like a door-to-door salesperson;
  • exempt employees of seasonal amusement or recreation parks, small newspapers and newspaper deliverers;
  • announcers, news editors, and chief engineers at certain non-metropolitan broadcasting stations; and
  • movie theatre employees.

The FLSA gives another class of exempt employees from its overtime provisions only, particularly those who work at hospitals, residential care facilities, police and fire departments. Some securities industry brokers are also exempt from overtime rules.

Depending on your responsibilities at work, you may be an exempt employee one week and non-exempt another week. If you perform exempt employee work and non-exempt employee work during the same day, you are a non-exempt employee for that week.

How do I know if I am misclassified as exempt under the FLSA?

It is possible to be misclassified as exempt, and you might be entitled to back pay for overtime as a result. Your job title does not determine whether you are exempt. Rather, there are three factors that must exist for your employer to qualify you as exempt:

  • You must work on a salary basis
  • Your salary must be at least $455/week
  • Your job title and duties indicates your responsibilities are that of an executive, a professional, administrative personnel, certain computer workers, or a specially skilled worker.

What wage issues can I have as an exempt employee?

For the average exempt employee, who earns substantially more than minimum wage, the primary wage issue is whether employers may make deductions from salary for various events. In general, you are entitled to the same salary every pay period, regardless of hours worked. However, there are seven situations in which your employer may make deductions from your salary without violating the law:

  • If you are absent for personal reasons for one or more full days (not including sickness or disability)
  • If you are absent due to sickness or disability for one or more full days (deduction must be made in accordance with a plan, policy, or practice of providing compensation for salary lost because of illness.)
  • To offset the dollar amount received for jury duty, witness fees, or for military pay.
  • If you violate major safety rules, you may be penalized.
  • If you violate written company conduct rules, if you are suspended for at least one full day, you may be suspended without pay.
  • Your employer does not have to pay you for time not worked in your first or last week of employment.
  • If you take partial days, full days, or weeks off under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

I think I am misclassified as exempt or, I am exempt and my employer is taking unlawful deductions from my salary:

  • Act quickly–you have a limited time to file a complaint for FLSA violations.
  • Gather any documents relevant to your employment, including your employee manual and paystubs.
  • Consult an experienced employment layer; you’re initial FLSA consultation is free.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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