FLSA

Can I Get Overtime Even Though I am Salaried?

Overtime and Salary

If you suspect that you are being denied some of your hard-earned wages, you should call or e-mail us today.  We have lawyers standing by.  You might be entitled to compensation - find out if you are.  All initial consultations are free.

Whether or not you are entitled to overtime depends almost entirely on what you do - not whether you are paid a salary or not.  Depending on your job function, you may or may not be exempt.  For more information on overtime exemptions, click here.   You are probably entitled to overtime (even if you receive a salary) if:

  • Your pay is reduced if there is no work; or
  • You receive less pay if you only work for part of a day; or
  • Your salary is docked because you missed a day (or more) of work.

If you are working a ton of hours for a salary, it is entirely possible that your employer is taking advantage of you by paying you a salary when you are entitled to overtime. Call us, get a consultation and make an informed decision.  You can be on the phone with an overtime lawyer today.

Why would my employer pay me a salary instead of hourly?

Employers often intentionally misclassify employees as salaried workers who are exempt from receiving overtime in order to save money. To be “exempt”, an employee must generally be an executive, administrative, or professional employee. Companies will try to fit employees into these categories even where overtime wage laws do not allow for it.

Some employers do not understand the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees.  These employers should talk to an overtime attorney to make sure they are following all applicable laws.

Call or email us today for a free consultation.  You can speak with a lawyer today.

Proposed Changes to FLSA Overtime Rules - Part II

The Duties Test

As we discussed in our last post, the most commonly used exemptions from the FLSA overtime pay requirements are for executive, administrative, and professional employees, and are often referred to as the “white collar” exemptions.  However, the FLSA does not define the terms “executive,” “administrative,” “professional,” or “outside salesman” and the regulations have generally required that each of the following three tests be satisfied for the exemption to apply: (1) the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (the “salary basis test”); (2) the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (the “salary level test”); and (3) the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (the “duties test”). 

Although the DOL did not propose any changes (in its June 30, 2015 FLSA amendment proposals) to the duties requirements it did seek comments as to whether the duties tests should be updated.  The following outlines the current duties test. 

Administrative Employees – In order for an administrative employee to be exempt, he or she must satisfy the “salary basis” and “salary level” tests described above and the duties test. A primary duty of the employee must include:

  • the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers and
  • the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Executive Employees – In order for an executive employee to be exempt, he or she must satisfy the “salary basis” and “salary level” tests described above and the duties test. A primary duty of the employee must include:

  •  management of the enterprise in which the employee is employed or manages a customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof,
  • customary and regular direction of the work of two or more other employee, and
  • the authority to hire or fire other employees or input (suggestions and recommendations) regarding the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion, or any other change of status of other employees that is given particular weight.

Professional Employees – In order for certain professional employee to be exempt, he or she must he or she must satisfy the “salary basis” and “salary level” tests described above and the duties test. A primary duty of the employee must include:

  • the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character. Advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning, and such knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction, or;
  • work that is original and creative in a recognized field of artistic endeavor, or;
  • teaching in a school system or educational institution, or;
  • work as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field.

For each of the categories above, the employee must perform work that requires the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment or “requiring invention, imagination, or talent in a recognized field of artistic endeavor.”

Outside Sales Employees – In order for an outside sales employee to be exempt, he or she must satisfy the duties test.  The salary requirements do not apply. A primary duty of the employee must include:

  • making sales of tangible or intangible items such as goods, insurance, stocks, bonds, or real estate or obtaining orders or contracts for services or the use of facilities; and
  • Customary and regular work away from the employer’s place of business in performing the employee’s primary duty.

For more information on the current duties test and the FLSA exemptions for executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees, please see the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division’s Fact Sheet (https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17a_overview.htm).

Proposed Changes to FLSA Overtime Rules - Part I

On June 30, 2015, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) released proposed regulations that would amend various provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  In particular, the DOL proposed changes to the regulations governing the “white collar” exemption for executive, administrative, and professional employees.   The FLSA (and wage and hour laws, generally) are complicated but we will try to break down the key changes as simply as possible.

FLSA Overview

The FLSA generally requires employers to pay its employees at least the federal minimum wage plus overtime at a rate of at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week.  However, the FLSA provides for various exemptions from the overtime requirement.

The most commonly used exemptions are for executive, administrative, and professional employees, and are often referred to as the “white collar” exemptions.  However, the FLSA does not define the terms “executive,” “administrative,” “professional,” or “outside salesman” and the regulations have generally required that each of the following three tests be satisfied for the exemption to apply: (1) the employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (the “salary basis test”); (2) the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (the “salary level test”); and (3) the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (the “duties test”). 

The regulations also exempt “highly compensated” employees who “customarily and regularly” perform one of the exempt duties of an administrative, executive or professional employee, but who do not otherwise meet the duties test.  Currently, and since 2004, an employee earning $100,000 in total annual compensation (with at least $455 paid weekly on a salary or fee basis) would be exempt from overtime as a highly compensated employee.

Salary Basis Test – NO CHANGE

There were no proposed changes to the first requirement that employees be paid on a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction.

Salary Level Test – BIG CHANGES!

Currently, and since 2004, any employee earning less than $455 per week ($23,660 a year) is considered “nonexempt” and therefore entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a week, regardless of whether the employee is paid on an hourly or salary basis.

Under the DOL’s proposal, the salary level required for an executive, administrative or professional employee to qualify for exemption from the FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements would increase from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to $921 a week ($47,892 a year), based on 2013 data.  This means that anyone who makes less than $47,892 a year will be entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40.

The proposed regulations also set forth mechanisms for annually updating the minimum salary and if one of the annual update mechanisms is implemented, the DOL anticipates that the annual salary requirement in 2016 will be $970 a week, or $50,440 a year.

Duties Test – STAY TUNED

The DOL did not propose any changes to the duties requirements but did seek comments as to whether the duties tests should be updated.  Please stay tuned for Part II of this series for an outline of the current duties test. 

Highly Compensated Employees - CHANGED

The DOL’sproposed regulations increase the required salary for “highly compensated employees” to $122,148, indexed to the annualized value of the 90th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers.

The DOL’s proposed rule would effectively extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million white collar workers within the first year of its implementation.  Because the overtime regulations have not been updated in so long, employers have been able to classify more and more employees as exempt and therefore avoid paying overtime.  The overtime exception was originally meant to apply to highly-compensated executive, administrative, and professional employees although it now applies to workers earning as little as $23,660 a year. 

The DOL is expected to release its final rule later in 2016. 

I am being forced to work off the clock. What should I do?

In general, an employee’s “hours worked” include all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer's premises or at any other prescribed place of work. All employees must be paid for all time worked. So if your employer is forcing you to work off the clock, you may be entitled to additional compensation (even if you are paid a salary).

Common examples of work off the clock:

  • Your employer asks to you set up, open a store or facility prior to clocking in.
  • Your employer makes you clock out for a meal break, but nonetheless makes you work during that period.
  • Your employer automatically deducts some period of time from your hours (usually for an assumed “break”), but does not compensate you for work you performed during that time.
  • Your employer asks you to clock out and then, after you are clocked out, perform additional work (e.g. cleaning up, shutting down, etc.).

Am I entitled to additional compensation:

Probably. This comes down to a determination of whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt. For further information that should help you determine whether or not you are exempt, these links may be helpful:

What to do if you are being forced to work off the clock:

  • Collect the facts – you need to get a sense of how much you are working off the clock, whether any additional employees are also working off the clock. Get any documents you have about off the clock work together.
  • Contact an employment lawyer – get a better understanding of your rights. We offer a free initial consultation. In most situations involving work off the clock we do not collect a fee unless we get recovery for our client.  Contact us today for a free consultation.

Q&A: NY Overtime Law | NY Overtime Pay

Do I have an overtime claim? If you think that you may have an overtime claim, chances are that you do.  Below are a few frequently asked questions about New York Overtime Law that can help you to determine whether you have an overtime claim or a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) or NY Overtime Law Law.  If you think you are entitled to overtime, you should contact us for a free consultation.

Q: What do the terms overtime hours and overtime pay mean?

Overtime hours means the time an employee works more than 40 hours per work week.  Under federal law and the NY Overtime Law, overtime pay must equal at least one and one-half times an employee's regular rate of pay. So, if an employee regularly makes $10/hour, that employee is entitled to make $15/hour for all the overtime hours he or she works.

Q: Who must be paid overtime pay?

Most employees are entitled to overtime pay.  You are probably entitled to overtime pay unless your job is an "executive," "administrative," and "professional" positions.  Whether or not you fall into one of these categories depends on the specific nature of your job.  If you have questions about NY Overtime Law, you should talk to a lawyer.

Q: What if I have no written records or proof of the hours I worked?

You do not need written records or proof of the number of hours you worked. It is the employer's duty to maintain certain records regarding your work hours and pay.  If your employer does not have those records, your testimony under oath will be sufficient to prove your claim.

Q: Do I have to be paid overtime pay for working more than eight hours in one day?

No. Overtime pay must only be paid when you work more than 40 hours in week, and not more than eight hours in any one day.

Q: What if my employer tells me that I am an independent contractor?

You may still be entitled to overtime pay because your employer may be wrongly telling you that you are an independent contractor. Whether or not you are an independent contractor depends on a variety of factors that we will need to discuss with you before we can give you an answer.

Q: What if I work 30 hours in one week and 50 hours in the next week, can my employer average the two weeks to avoid paying me overtime?

No. This is a common method employers use to avoid paying overtime. The averaging of workweeks is expressly prohibited by law. You are entitled to receive overtime pay for each individual week you work more than 40 hours. In the above example, you are entitled to receive overtime pay for the 10 hours you worked more than 40 hours in week two.

Q: Is it legal that I am paid "comp time" instead of overtime?

Unless you work for the state or federal government, an employer providing compensatory or "comp time" instead of overtime pay is illegal.

Q: My employer tells me I am exempt from the overtime pay laws, am I?

Not necessarily. You are exempt based on your job duties and responsibilities and not based on what your employer calls you. It makes no difference if your employer calls you exempt or gives you a job title such as "manager" or "supervisor." It is a common practice for employers to give workers the title of "assistant manager" to avoid paying overtime when those employees are not exempt and should be paid overtime.

Q: Can I still be entitled to overtime pay if I am a salaried rather than hourly employee?

Yes. This is one of the common misconceptions about overtime pay. You are not exempt just because you are paid a weekly salary. If you are not otherwise exempt under the FLSA, your employer must convert your weekly salary to an hourly rate and pay you time and a half for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours.

Q: When should I file a claim against my employer?

The longer you wait the less overtime pay you may be able to recover. It is also best to promptly pursue your claim so that time records and witnesses are readily available.

Q: Can my employer fire me for bringing an overtime claim against it?

No. It is illegal for an employer to fire or in any way retaliate against an employee because he or she has filed a claim for overtime against the employer. We will help protect you if your employer tries to retaliate against you for filing an overtime claim.

Q: What should I do if I believe that I am owed overtime pay?

You should seek legal advice. The overtime laws are highly technical and we can help apply the law to your special situation. Our experienced NY Overtime Lawyers provide free consultations and will tell you if you are owed earned wages and if we can help you.

Q: How much does it cost to file a claim?

In most cases, all costs for overtime and unpaid wage cases will be advanced by our firm. Because our fee is typically contingent on a recovery from the employer, the firm does not get paid or reimbursed for expenses until the recovery is made.

Q: Do I have to pay attorneys fees to you if I lose my case?

No. We will only receive a fee if we are successful in resolving your claim.

Failure to Pay Overtime in NY | Failure to Pay Overtime NJ

Failure to Pay Overtime in NY | Failure to Pay Overtime NJ

Failure to Pay Overtime
Failure to Pay Overtime

Most employees are entitled to receive one and a half (1½) times their regular hourly rate of pay for work performed in excess of forty hours per week.  All time worked must be counted in calculating overtime including, all work activities and activities before and after a shift, as well as work done at home. Activities performed before assigned shifts, such as logging on to computer systems, programs, and applications, dressing in required clothing or protective gear, or preparation and/or inspection of machinery, tools, equipment or supplies are counted in determining whether the employee is entitled to overtime wages.   Similarly, answering emails and texts from home is considered hours worked for purposes of calculating overtime. Failure to pay overtime in NY and NJ is illegal.

Some employers fail to pay overtime because of misclassification of jobs as exempt from the federal or state wage and hour laws.  This may be the result of wrongful application of the complex tests prescribed under applicable laws or regulations or failure to consider deductions from pay.  Just because your employer tells you that you are not entitled to overtime does not make it so.

If you believe you have been denied overtime pay in New York or New Jersey, you should consult an attorney experienced in wage and hour claims.

NY Labor Law Legislation Update

On September 7, 2012, Governor Cuomo signed legislation amending New York Labor Law §193.   The amendment goes into effect on November 6, 2012. Section 193 of the New York Labor Law prohibits employers from making “any deduction from the wages of an employee,” except for (1) deductions required by law or (2) deductions that are expressly authorized by the employee in writing and “are for the benefit of the employee.”  The second exception permits deductions for insurance premiums, pension or health benefits, charitable contributions, and dues for labor organizations, as well as other limited deductions.

The amendment expands the list of categories for which deductions may be taken by employers with an employee’s written consent and allows deductions for overpayments due to clerical or mathematical errors or for repayment of advances on wages or vacations paid to employees.

The permissible deductions under the amendment shall now include the following:

●             prepaid legal plans;

●             purchases made at events sponsored by a charitable organization affiliated with the employer;

●             discounted parking or discounted passes, tokens, fare cards, vouchers, or other items that entitle the employee to use mass transit;

●             fitness center, health club, and/or gym membership dues;

●             cafeteria and vending machine purchases made at the employer’s place of business, and purchases made at gift shops operated by the employer (if the employer is a  hospital, college, or university);

●             pharmacy purchases made at the employer’s place of business;

●             tuition, room, board, and fees for pre-school, nursery, primary, secondary, and/or post-secondary educational institutions;

●             day care, before-school and after-school care expenses;

●             payments for housing provided at no more than market rates by non-profit hospitals or affiliates thereof; and

●             similar payments for the benefit of the employee.

Most significantly, the amendment allows employers to make wage deductions to recover “an overpayment of wages where such overpayment is due to a mathematical or other clerical error by the employer” and “repayment of advances of salary or wages made by the employer to the employee.”

Under the amended law, deductions still are permitted only if expressly authorized in writing, signed by the employee and if the deductions are, generally, for the benefit of the employee.  The amendment requires that, before any deduction is made, the employee must receive “written notice of all terms and conditions of the payment and/or its benefits and the details of the manner in which deductions will be made.”

 

Strippers & Exotic Dancers: Independent Contractors or Employees?

Answering the issue of whether strippers and exotic dancers are independent contractors or employees, in a case entitled Thompson v. House, Inc., the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that exotic dancers in a Washington, DC gentleman’s club were employees and not independent contractors. The judge ruled that the gentleman's club did control the activities of the dancers sufficiently to evidence an employee/employer relationship.

The dancers were paid by the hour, earned $30-50 per hour and usually worked four shifts of ten hours per week.  The club also maintained a number of work rules and forced the dancers to pay the club and the disc jockey.  The dancers were also penalized for calling in sick or being tardy.  These are all evidence of “control,” which cuts against independent contractor status.

There have been a number of similar lawsuits under the FLSA and virtually all of them have resulted in findings of employee status for the strippers.   If you believe that you are being improperly classified as an independent contractor, please contact us.  We can help.

Am I Entitled to Accrued and Unused Vacation Time in NY?

Are you owed accrued, unused vacation?

If you believe you are owed any wages - call us - we have lawyers standing by.  You can be discussing your case today.  You can also e-mail us.  All e-mails receive a response, from a lawyer, within 24-hours.

If you are an employee in New York and you resign, quit or are terminated from your job, then you may be wondering if you your employer is required to pay you for your accrued and unused vacation time.  According to the New York Department of Labor, whether your employer is required to compensate you for any unused vacation time depends on the terms of the company's vacation and/or resignation policy.  Courts in New York have held that an agreement to provide benefits or wage supplements, like vacation, can specify that employees lose accrued benefits.  See Glenville Gage Company, Inc. v. Industrial Board of Appeals of the State of New York, Department of Labor, 70 AD2d 283 (3d Dept 1979) affd, 52 NY2d 777 (1980) located here.  In order to be valid, the employer must have told employees, in writing, of the conditions that nullify the benefit.  In other words, if an employee has earned vacation time and has not used it and the employer has no written forfeit policy, then the employer must pay the employee for the accrued vacation. The NY Department of Labor has published a helpful FAQ on this and other wage and hour related issues.

Frankly, if you are being let go, you should consider whether you are entitled to a severance agreement and release.  Our firm helps employees understand and negotiate severance agreements which include payment for accrued, unused vacation time plus additional compensation.

If you have any issues with how/when you are paid, you should call us today.  We can help!

If you are entitled to your accrued unused vacation, we can help you get it.  For a 25% contingency fee, we will write to your employer on your behalf and advise your employer regarding your rights for accrued unused vacation.    If we cannot recover, you owe us nothing.  If you are an employee in NY and have any questions about your vacation pay or other wage and hour matters, please contact us today.

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Independent Contractor vs. Employee -- Exotic Dancers Recover $1.55M in Misclassification Case

Independent Contractor vs. Employee Exotic Dancers Recover $1.55M in Misclassification Case

Clincy v. Galardi South Enterprises, Inc. was brought by a group of exotic dancer/entertainers who alleged that they had been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. The Defendants required that the dancers pay a fee to the club for the privilege of dancing as an independent contractor.

The trial court explored the question of whether the dancers were employees or independent contractors under the FLSA and ruled that the dancers were employees rather than independent contractors.  Prior to the trial on the second issue, the defendants settled the action. They agreed to pay a $1.55 million settlement to the class of strippers.

Ultimately the employee versus independent contractor issue is a complicated one.  Courts often rule based on a variety of factors including (1) the nature and degree of control over the work, (2) the employee's opportunity for profit or loss depending on her skill, (3) who pays for equipment, (4) whether the services require special skill, (5) the permanency and duration of the working relationship, and (6) the extent to which the services are integral to the business.

In this case, none of the plaintiffs were paid any direct wages by the club in which they worked.  Instead, they paid defendants for the right to perform in their club.  The plaintiffs’ each were required to sign independent contractor agreements as a prerequisite to beginning work for the defendants.  Defendants claimed that the dancers were independent contractors because they were paid directly by customers and did not receive paychecks.  They also claimed that the club did not profit from the dancers and that the dancers did not necessarily drive the club’s business.  However, based on evidence that the defendants set the prices for tableside dances and the amount of gross receipts dancers were required to turn over in the form of “house fees” and disc jockey fees, as well as the fact that the defendants set specific schedules for the dancers, created rules of conduct (subject to discipline), check-in and check-out procedures and otherwise controlled the method and manner in which plaintiffs worked, the court held that the defendants were plaintiffs’ employers under the FLSA.

The take home point is this – just because your employer calls you an independent contractor, that does not necessarily make you and independent contractor.  This is true even if your employer makes you sign an “independent contractor” agreement.  If you think you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor, contact us for a free initial consultation.

Click Clincy v. Galardi South Enterprises, Inc. to read the entire opinion.