The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1938 with the goal of providing fair treatment for employees. Among its many provisions are those that set several standards in regard to working conditions, including those related to minimum wage, child labor, and overtime pay. One of the issues that often arises within the context of employment law is whether an employee is considered “exempt” from overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. While all employees are presumed to be not exempt from the overtime requirement, there are numerous exemptions into which many employees may fall. These include exemptions for agricultural workers, live-in domestic workers, casual babysitters, airline employees, and many others. More information about these exemptions can be found at the United States Department of Labor’s website.
The Executive, Administrative, Professional, and Outside Sales Exemptions
While there are myriad exemptions available under FLSA, some apply more often than others in the average American office scenario. In order to qualify for these exemptions, employees must be paid at least $455 per week. In addition, their pay must occur on a salary basis that is not subject to reductions based on the amount or quality of the work performed. Finally, their job duties must fall into one of several defined categories. Some of these categories include the following:
Administrative Employees - In order to be exempt as an administrative employee, the employee’s primary duties must be the performance of non-manual or office work related general business operations and he or she must exercise discretion and independent judgment with regard to matters of significance.
Learned Professional – Employees who are exempt under the learned professional exemption must perform work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science and learning and that knowledge must be normally obtained by a prolonged course of intellectual instruction.
Creative Professional – In order to be exempt as a creative professional, employees’ primary duties must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality, or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.
Outside Sales – Outside salespeople are exempt from FLSA’s overtime requirements if their primary duty is making sales or securing orders or contracts for the use of facilities that will be paid by the client or customer and the employee must be regularly and customarily engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business.
Sometimes employers will rely on job titles in order to fit someone into an exemption in order to avoid paying an employee overtime. However, merely titling a position in a certain way does not trigger an exemption, and employees who believe that they are misclassified should contact an attorney immediately.