Working as an exempt employee means you are paid a straight wage usually a salary regardless of how many hours you work. However, the fact that your employer classifies you as an exempt employee and pays you a salary does not mean that the employer is paying you correctly.
Correctly classified exempt employees earn a set salary, and are not eligible for overtime pay. Many employees who are classified as exempt do not meet the legal exempt classification and are thus owed overtime pay.
What is An Exempt Employee?
Minimum wage differs from state to state. Exempt employees must make a minimum amount of salary each week which does not vary based upon the quality or quantity of work. Non-exempt employees are hourly employees who receive an hourly wage and overtime pay.
Some examples of exempt employees include:
- Outside Sales
There may be other situations, as well, like farmhands, delivery personnel, cab drivers, and a few others also fall under these categories. Often, these people are self-employed.
These positions are paid the same minimum amount each week or month. As these positions often require people to work the same hours, as well, it makes sense that they are not paid hourly.
But, if you are required to work overtime, it is up to your employer if they are going to pay you for it. If your employer is reasonable, they may pay you or compensate you in other ways.
Unpaid Wages as an Exempt Employee
If you are not getting the money you are entitled to, or if you are required to work overtime on a regular basis as an exempt employee, there can a problem.
Many people who are exempt may be asked to work overtime as the company doesn’t pay overtime to those employees.
If you are asked to work overtime without compensation, it’s a good idea to talk to your manager or human resources. If you are not eligible to get paid for overtime, and there was nothing else offered, then talk to them first.
There may have been a misunderstanding or a mistake. If your employer is reasonable, they may understand if you have prior commitments, or they will offer you something else, like time off in lieu of time worked.
If you are not comfortable talking about it or if you don’t get anywhere, you can contact the Department of Labor for help, information, and assistance. You can simply ask for advice or file a complaint.
While you can be required to work overtime without pay as an exempt employee, you cannot be fired for complaining about your pay or filing a DOL complaint
Talk to a Lawyer
If you believe you are being taken advantage of, you should seek legal advice. All too often, employers will force exempt employees to work overtime because they don’t have to pay them.
Your time is important, as well. If you are not getting paid for the hours you work, you need to get advice from people who know the law.
Forcing people to work without paying them is wage theft, so take a stand and get the money you deserve.