The Most Common Way Your Employer Avoid Paying Overtime

Americans are known as a very hardworking nation. Many people put in a ton of overtime at work, sacrificing the time they could spend with family or on their hobbies and fun activities and come home dog-tired for days or weeks. What is reassuring is that you will get that huge overtime income.

Then when you receive your check, it’s suspiciously light.

This is not as uncommon as you would certainly think. One sly way firms avoid paying overtime is by misclassifying staff members as exempt.

Who Is Exempt from Overtime Pay?

There are 2 types of employee categories: exempt and non-exempt.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to pay non-exempt staff members at least the minimum wage, plus time and a half for all hours worked over 40 in a week.

However some categories of employees, those that are classified as exempt, don’t receive time-and-a-half regardless of how many hours they work. Exempt staff members may include:


Despite the name, you do not have to be at the top of your firm’s management to get the executive exemption.

The bare minimum qualification is making at least $455 a week on a wage basis, leading a division or department, supervising a group of at the very least 2 people, as well as having the authority to hire and fire.

While this summary includes C-level executives, it might additionally describe lower-level managers and supervisors, depending on your business as well as duties.

Administrative Workers

Management employees that are exempt should also make at least $455 a week on a wage or salary basis. Their major work responsibilities might include administrative office management, along with the exercise of discretion and also independent judgment relative to matters of significance. Taking into account the broadness of this description, companies are set loose when determining who is exempt and who isn’t.

Learned or Creative Professionals

There are 2 types of professional exemptions: “Learned professional” and “creative professional”.

Learned professionals rely on sophisticated knowledge in an area (such as scientific research) acquired throughout a duration of long term study to do their task. Creative professionals carry out duties including creativity and initial creation in an acknowledged imaginative field.

Both of these need to make at least $455 each week on salary to be considered exempt.

Computer Employees

There’s a lengthy checklist of the specific tasks as well as task titles appropriate to employees under this classification, but the idea is that if you work with computer systems, hardware or code all day, you most likely fall under this heading.

This is one of the few categories that can be either per hour or wage to be considered exempt. If  you have a fixed salary, you have to make a minimum of $455 a week to qualify. If you have an hourly rate, you must be paid at least $27.63 per hour.

Outside Salespeople

To be considered an “outside salesperson”, your primary responsibilities must consist of selling products, services or agreements — off your company’s location. If you spend a lot of time on the road making sales, you’re most likely an outside salesperson.

What to Do if You Think You’re Being Misclassified

When it comes to classifying who is or isn’t exempt, your work obligations matter more than your title. So if your title includes “outside sales” yet you hardly ever leave your office, you might have a misclassification trouble.

It’s illegal to fire a person for bringing this error up, so it’s OK to go after the discussion with your HR manager.

If it’s clear to you that your employer is misclassifying you and also isn’t intending to deal with the issue or reimburse you, you might need to seek legal help. The Chattanooga employment law attorneys of McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC,  have decades of experience representing public and private sector employees throughout Tennessee. Our employment law attorneys in Chattanooga handle state and federal court litigation, including trials, appeals, mediations, arbitrations, and settlements. Contact us today if you have any questions regarding the employment law.