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Administrative assistants and the FLSA: When is overtime pay required?

Most people are aware that federal labor law requires overtime pay at the rate of time-and-half for hours worked over 40 hours. It is one of the basic building blocks of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Yes, there is an exemption from this requirement for certain employees. The exemption applies to roles that are genuinely executive, administrative or professional in nature. It also applies to outside sales employees and some computer employees.

But is it possible that your employer has wrongfully denied you overtime pay by misclassifying your position as exempt? In this post, we will discuss that question with reference with administrative assistants.

A salary is not sufficient to make someone exempt

Employers often classify administrative assistants as salaried employees. Sometimes this is legitimate.

Other times, however, it may not be. This is because the administrative employee exemption to the FLSA's overtime pay requirement is not open-ended.

The exemption is not open-ended in that paying a particular employee a salary does not necessarily make the employee exempt. Under the FLSA, there is a legal test that must be met to make classification proper.

One factor in that test is the level of compensation. If the employee makes less than $455 per week, classifying that employee as exempt from overtime is not proper.

The other two factors relate to an employee's primary duties. In order for the overtime exemption to apply, the employee's primary duty must involve office or non- manual work that is directly related to management or operation of the business. And it must include the ability to act with discretion and independent judgment.

Employment litigation on the rise in Texas

We will explore these classification factors in more depth in upcoming posts. For now, we will merely note that unpaid overtime is surprisingly common.

As a result, employment litigation challenging unpaid overtime and other FLSA violations is on the rise in Texas. The Houston area, deeply affected by the downturn in the energy industry, has experienced a particularly sharp increase in claims.

Do you believe you were wrongfully denied overtime for administrative work? If you are in that situation, it makes sense to discuss your case with a lawyer skilled in handling FLSA claims.

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