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Not all "salaried" employees are exempt from overtime laws

Many workers and employers in Oklahoma understand that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that certain employees be paid "overtime" wages under certain circumstances. This is usually "time-and-a-half," or 150% of the employee's normal hourly wage if the employee works more than 40 hours in a work week. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion, amongst both labor and management, when it comes to defining so-called "exempt" employees, who do not have to be paid overtime wages.

Many people believe that as long as an employee receives a "salary," rather than an hourly wage, he or she is exempt from federal and state overtime rules. This is not exactly the case, however. Whether any specific employee is considered "exempt" or "non-exempt" can be quite complicated, and should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, but some general ideas can be articulated.

First, to be considered an "exempt" employee, the worker must be earning more than $455 per week, or $23,600 annually. Generally, anyone making over $100,000 per year will be considered exempt. Between those two figures, where most of the labor force lies, is where complications can occur.

First, to be "exempt," the employee must meet the salary basis test. Basically, this means that the worker must be able to expect a certain amount of pay per week in which any work at all was performed. But the analysis doesn't end there. To be exempt from overtime laws, the employee must also be working in a certain capacity. While "outside sales" employees are specifically considered exempt, other exempt workers must be performing "executive, administrative or professional duties." It is important to note that the job title does not matter as much as the actual duties the employee performs. As a very general matter, employees are exempt if they exercise independent judgment, deal with matters of importance, supervise others' work, do non-manual office work, and/or have a professional degree and are working in that professional capacity.

As can be seen, deciding whether any individual employee is exempt can be quite complicated. Employees who believe they should be receiving overtime, but have been misclassified by their employers should consider consulting with an attorney with experience in employment law.

Source: FLSA.com, "Coverage under the FLSA ," Accessed, Aug. 18, 2014

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