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What Qualifies as an “Outside Sales Employee” Under the FLSA?

November 13, 2020 Worker Misclassification

And Is Your Employer Misclassifying You?

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), qualifying US employees should be paid no less than the federal minimum wage, as well as overtime pay of no less than time and a half for all hours worked over the 40-hour threshold.

However, there are some significant carve-outs.

Under the FLSA, employers are not required to pay overtime—or even meet the minimum wage threshold—for people with certain job descriptions. Those jobs are referred to as “exempt,” as in exempt from those FLSA requirements.

One of those exempt jobs is “outside salesperson.”

What Makes You an Outside Salesperson?

To be considered an outside salesperson, your job description has to match up with the FLSA definition of this job. To state it simply:

  • Your primary job duty must be selling. This includes obtaining contracts for services or facilities that a client or customer will pay for.
  • You primarily do it outside of the office.

How Does Being an Outside Salesperson Affect Your Overtime Eligibility?

Overtime eligibility is determined by several factors, including a salary threshold, whether or not you receive an annual salary or are paid by the hour, and the type of job you perform.

If you make less than a certain salary threshold, you may be eligible for overtime pay and other protections. However, the salary threshold doesn’t apply to outside salespeople.

This is because outside salespeople are generally expected to be paid on commission. Commissions may vary from month to month—and some months, they may not even meet federal minimum wage requirements.

However, the federal government generally expects this job to pay well enough that outside salespeople don’t require overtime pay or minimum wage protections.

That is not always the case in practice, however.

What Happens When Employers Wrongly Classify Employees?

If your employer pays you as an outside salesperson, but you suspect you don’t qualify as that—for instance, a significant part of your job is not sales-related or you do not primarily do it outside the office—they may be breaking the law.

In Pennsylvania, anyone who qualifies as an outside salesperson must spend a minimum of 80% of their time engaged in sales outside of the office, and a maximum of 20% on non-sales-related duties.

Employers found to have categorized employees improperly as outside salespeople may be held liable for back pay as well as significant penalties.

Are You Being Misclassified? Talk To a Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer 

If you’re not sure whether you can be properly classified as an outside salesperson—even though your company is paying you as one—you may have a case in court.

Talk to a qualified Pennsylvania employment lawyer today. A knowledgeable employment attorney can determine whether your rights are being violated—and hold your employer accountable.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.