As a salaried employee, you may think that you are not entitled to overtime pay. But depending on your job duties and how much you earn, you may be entitled to extra money for the hours you work over 40 per week.
Salaried employees and overtime
Whether or not you are entitled to overtime pay depends on how you are classified. Certain employees are classified as “nonexempt,” which means they are eligible for overtime pay, equal to 1.5 times their regular hourly rate of pay, for any hours worked over 40 each week. Employees who are classified as “exempt” are not eligible for overtime.
How an employee is classified is determined by a complex web of federal and state laws, and many employers misclassify employees as exempt (sometimes on purpose). As a result, the misclassified employees are denied the overtime pay to which they are legally entitled.
Who is considered exempt?
Salaried employees who work in certain job categories, including executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales roles, may be considered exempt if they earn more than a certain amount and if their job duties meet certain criteria.
In New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County, employees must earn a salary of at least $1,125 weekly, or $58,500 annually, to be exempt from overtime. So if you work within those regions, and you earn less than $1,125 per week, you are entitled to overtime no matter what your job description is.
The minimum threshold elsewhere in New York State is $990 per week (or $51,480 per year). And in New Jersey, you are eligible for overtime if your salary is lower than $684 weekly ($35,568 annually), which mirrors the minimum threshold imposed by federal law.
Job duties test
Even if you earn more than the minimum salary threshold for the region where you work, you may still be entitled to overtime pay depending on the nature of your job duties. If your primary job duties do not meet the exemptions below, you are most likely entitled to overtime.
- To qualify for the executive exemption, your primary duties must generally consist of managing the business, or a department or division of it. You must direct the work of at least two full-time employees and have the ability to impact hiring and firing.
- To qualify for the administrative exemption, your primary duties must involve performing office or non-manual work that is directly related to management or general business operations, and your position must allow you to exercise discretion and independent judgment in matters of significance to the business.
- For the learned professional exemption, your primary duties must involve performing work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning that is customarily acquired by prolonged and specialized study, such as doctors and lawyers.
The job duties tests are nuanced, with gray areas that are open to interpretation. Disputes commonly arise over the interpretation of what constitutes a “primary duty”, what is considered “discretion and independent judgment,” and other issues. The correct classification of an employee is often a fact-specific question that must be determined from a detailed analysis of an individual’s job duties. An experienced employment attorney can help you determine your proper classification. We will explore this topic in greater detail in upcoming articles.
Have you been deprived of overtime pay?
If you believe you are entitled to overtime but have been misclassified as exempt, contact an employment attorney at Katz Melinger PLLC. We can help you understand whether you are legitimately eligible for overtime and discuss your options to recover back pay and other damages you may be owed.