Two Whos, Where, and What: Four Key Questions in FLSA overtime law

by on March 31, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Questions about employment status and exempt vs. non-exempt are at the core of FLSA overtime law

Do they work for you or with you: A major question in FLSA law

Janitors who were classified as independent contractors were denied overtime pay, even though many worked up to 70 hours a week.

A few complained to management, but nothing happened.

So they went to the DOL, which investigated, found the janitors were indeed employees under FLSA law, and initiated a lawsuit.

The employer settled, agreeing to pay $22.4 million to the janitors.

Under FLSA law, when an employer directs day-to-day work efforts, tells workers when to arrive and when they may leave, and controls how, where, and when jobs get done, the workers are employees, not independent contractors.

Cite: DOL v. Albertson’s, Inc.

Who is classified as an exempt employee under FLSA law?

A lot of managers assume that all salaried exempt employees are not paid for overtime. But as this case shows, they are falling into a common trap.

Responding to complaints from employees, DOL investigators found that workers at a North Dakota-based grocery store chain were denied overtime pay because – according to the employer – they earned weekly salaries instead of hourly wages, and were therefore exempt.

That’s a common employer misconception. But these workers – baggers and checkers, mostly – couldn’t pass the FLSA exemption test. The DOL shelved a lawsuit when the grocer agreed to pay $84,620 to 40 employees.

FLSA law says that it’s the nature of the work, not whether the pay is hourly or weekly, that determines overtime exemptions.

Cite: DOL v. Miracle Mart

Where they work can classify an employee as exempt or non-exempt in FLSA law

In a dispute with its chicken catchers, Perdue Farms claimed that the workers – who routinely put in 60-hour weeks – weren’t employees, but agents of a contractor.

But when two chicken catchers cried fowl, the courts stepped in and found in favor of the employees. Under FLSA law, the catchers were indeed employees.

Perdue agreed to pay double the estimated overtime wages that were owed the employees.

It’s a good idea to monitor your company’s independent contractors for changes in status.

Cite: Heath, et al v. Perdue Farms, Inc.

What pre and post briefings must be paid in FLSA law

Workers who weren’t paid for attending briefings outside their shifts should have been.

The Utah-based employer paid $169,000 in back wages after DOL discovered what was happening. The workers were security personnel who put in mandatory briefing time before and after their regular shifts.

Cite: DOL v. Mgt. & Training Corp.

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