No. If you are an employee working in a computer-related occupation such as computer programming, systems analysis or software engineering, you may have been told you are not entitled to overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That is not necessarily true.
An interesting case recently arose in the courts. In 2013, two workers from Apple stores in New York and Los Angeles filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Apple. The claim was that they were not being paid for all the hours they had worked.
2019 saw at least ten multimillion-dollar private class action settlements in the wage-and-hour law arena, along with a couple of multimillion-dollar government settlements. While several of the largest settlements involved California, wage-and-hour cases appear to be becoming more common across the nation. The total value of the top 10 wage-and-hour settlements last year was almost double the total value of the top 10 cases in 2018.
The Department of Labor has issued a new rule on who qualifies as exempt from overtime. Classifying a worker as exempt requires identifying a specific exemption, such as the executive, administrative, learned professional, computer employee or outside sales exemptions. Then, the job must both meet the definition of the exemption and exceed the salary threshold.
In 2017, the Economic Policy Institute did a study of wage theft in the 10 most populous states. The group estimated that 2.4 million people each year lose a total of $8 billion to thefts by their employers. That $8 billion, which again only represents 10 states, was nearly half the total of the annual $16.4 billion in all other property thefts combined.
In general, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires all covered, non-exempt workers to be paid 1-1/2 times their regular rate of pay as an overtime premium whenever they work more than 40 hours in a given workweek. This leads to the question, what is the employee's regular rate of pay?
The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued three new opinion letters on overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Opinion letters cover specific fact situations presented by employers, workers or other parties and are only legally binding on the party who requested the letter. However, employers may be able to claim safe harbor if they rely on an official opinion letter.
With the "gig economy" in full swing, state and federal agencies have an incentive to scrutinize whether workers are properly classified as independent contractors or employees. After all, employers are not responsible for paying half of an independent contractor's payroll taxes or the unemployment insurance and workers' comp required by law. And, independent contractors lack many workplace protections that employees are entitled to receive.
Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees are entitled to the premium overtime rate of 1-1/2 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked past 40 in a single workweek. The regular rate of pay is determined by adding up all earnings, including non-discretionary bonuses and some other payments, and dividing by the number of hours worked.
In 2016, the Obama administration's Labor Department proposed a change to the overtime rule in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. That change would have increased the exempt salary threshold, which is the minimum amount employees must earn in order to be classified as exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirement. However, the change was blocked by an appellate court. Now, the Trump administration's DOL is considering its own changes to the overtime rule, and employer and employee groups testified about their concerns at an Oct. 17 hearing at the DOL.