We regularly write about overtime issues for employers and employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) creates a baseline right to overtime for millions of employees, and many states have enacted their own labor laws to enhance those rights.
However, the FLSA and its state counterparts do not require employers to pay all employees overtime; these statutes include large swaths of workers who are “exempt” from the overtime pay requirements. For example, the FLSA includes exemptions for “professional” employees, which includes individuals such as doctors, teachers, architects, and most employees who need to have an advanced degree; “executive” employees, which includes many individuals who have managerial or supervisory responsibilities; “administrative” employees, which includes individuals who, roughly, perform office work related to the employer’s business operations and can function autonomously; and more specific exemptions for certain industries, such as outside salespeople and agricultural workers. These exemptions are complex, and the single-sentence summary above does not do justice to the millions of hours that thousands of attorneys have spent litigating these issues. In short, lawyers, judges, and administrators must look at an employee’s specific job responsibilities to determine whether they are exempt or not.