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Should You Be Getting Paid Overtime? How to Tell if Your Company Owes You Money

November 25, 2014 Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages

You’re not sure what happened to the 40-hour work week. The boss often stays late, and he or she expects you to as well. If an important email comes in after hours, there’s an unspoken expectation that you’re going to respond. If production is running behind, you’re supposed to stay until things are back on track – no matter how long that might take.

The problem is, no matter how many hours you put in, your paycheck always looks the same at the end of the week.

You’ve probably wondered if you should you be getting overtime. To figure that out, there are two questions to ask:

How is your job classified?

Has your job been classified correctly?

Of those two questions, the second one may be the most important. Let’s dig into each one a little further.

Exempt v. Non-Exempt: What It Means

The key to whether or not you’re eligible for overtime under federal law is whether you’re classified as an exempt or non-exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

“Exempt” refers to “exempt from overtime.” To put it in plain language, companies aren’t required to pay overtime to exempt employees.

Exempt status is generally meant to apply to people in executive and professional salaried positions, as well as certain administrative positions. Some jobs involving computers or outside sales are also categorized as exempt. (Check out this fact sheet from the Department of Labor for specific information about each category.)

“Non-exempt” status refers to employees who are not exempt from overtime. In other words, the employer is required to pay a non-exempt employee time-and-one-half for any time worked over 40 hours per week. Non-exempt employees usually work in hourly, non-executive, non-managerial positions – but not always. It is possible for non-exempt employees to be in salaried positions under certain circumstances. (You can find out more about this on the Department of Labor’s website.)

Keep in mind that while state laws largely mirror the federal standard, there may be some differences that could affect overtime eligibility, so it’s a good idea to seek legal advice before taking any action.

The Sneaky Way Some Companies Duck Out of Overtime

Here’s where things get interesting. The fact is, some companies have figured a way to game the system when it comes to overtime.

Yes, you guessed it: They know that classifying someone as “exempt” is an effective way to save an awful lot of money. The problem is, sometimes the money that they’re “saving” is money that should be going into your wallet.

That’s why it’s important to know whether your job has been properly classified. Unfortunately, that answer isn’t as cut-and-dried as you might think. Reason: The Department of Labor states that classifications aren’t based on job titles, but rather on job duties.

Here are few questions to ask if you think you may have been mis-classified:

Does your salary come out to more than $455 per week?

Do you manage other workers?

Do you have the authority to hire or fire?

Does your job involve decision making related to the strategy or direction of the business?

If you answered NO to any of the above questions, you may be entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. Email us at, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation to find out more about your rights.