The Fair Labor Standards Act provides for the payment of overtime compensation.  It also establishes a minimum wage and record keeping standards for employees that all employers must abide by. Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the FLSA risk civil penalties including the payment of unpaid wages, liquidated damages and payment of the prevailing employee’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Employees who are exempt, are not entitled to overtime compensation. To determine if an employee is exempt, the type of work the employee is performing must be analyzed.  Under the job duties test, workers must perform certain duties as their “primary” duty.  There are three (3) main exemptions under the job duties test of the FLSA – the executive exemption, the administrative exemption and the professional exemption. 

To fall under the executive exemption, an employee’s primary duty must consist of managing the enterprise, or managing a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise.  Additionally, the employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two (2) or more full-time employees or their equivalent.  Finally, the employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the employee’s suggestions or recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight.

To qualify under the administrative exemption, an employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers.  In addition, the employee’s primary duty must include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. 

The final exemption that we commonly hear about is the professional exemption.  To qualify for this exemption, the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning and must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. 

In addition to satisfying one (1) of the above exemptions, an employee will only be considered exempt if the employee is paid on a salary basis and if the employee earns a minimum weekly salary. For many years, the minimum weekly salary was $455.00 per week which equaled $23,660.00 annually.   However, effective January 1, 2020, the new minimum annual salary was raised to $35,568.00 or $684.00 per week.  Now, if your salary is less than $35,568.00, your employer must pay overtime compensation regardless of whether the duties test is satisfied.

In addition to the FLSA, Ohio has its own laws that require the payment of time and a half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.  There are differences between the FLSA and Ohio’s overtime statute in regard to the damages an employee can recover and the time limitations for filing a claim.  Given the complexity of these laws, it is best to speak to a knowledgeable attorney.  If you feel that you have been denied overtime compensation, please contact Dworken & Bernstein for a free consultation.

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