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Understanding exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2022 | Employment Law, Wage Disputes

Most workers in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area understand that their employers are legally required to pay them overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Most employers are aware of this requirement, but employers are also aware that some employees are exempt from the mandatory overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Understanding the exemptions and how they apply is critical for both employers and employees.

The basic scheme

The FLSA specifies that employees who earn less than $35,568 per year must be paid overtime at 1.5 times their regular wage for every hour they work in a single week in excess of 40 hours.

To put it simply, if a worker earns $10.00 per hour, he or she must be paid $15.00 per hour for every hour worked in excess of 40 hours.


The Labor Department regulations that enforce the FLSA establish two classes of employees: those subject to the mandatory overtime requirement (these workers are usually referred to as “non-exempt” workers) and those who are not subject to the mandatory overtime requirement (these workers are referred to as “exempt” workers).

Non-exempt workers are those workers whose jobs involve mostly manual labor performed under the supervision of an executive employee.

Many employers attempt to evade the mandatory overtime requirements by giving lower-ranking workers job titles that appear to require the exercise of managerial discretion.

These attempts usually run afoul of a specific provision of the Labor Department regulations.

One regulation states that a “job title alone” is not sufficient to establish an exemption from the mandatory overtime provisions. The exempt classification must be based upon bona fide evidence that the work requires the exercise of discretion and that the purported exempt employee participates in decisions that affect the future of the business.


Employers who attempt to evade these regulations may be hit with enforcement lawsuits brought by the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department or actions for back pay brought by workers who allege that they were cheated out of mandatory overtime pay by a fraudulent misclassification.

Anyone who has been caught in a dispute concerning the classification of exempt employees may wish to consult an experienced employment attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and an opinion on the likely outcome of the dispute.