How do I know if I’m exempt from overtime?

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How do I know if I’m exempt from overtime?

I am a secretary/bookkeeper in an accounting firm and they consider me exempt under the administrative exemption. I’ve done research on the exemptions and it’s clear that I am non-exempt but I’ve been told I’m getting too specific with the rules and I am not entitled to time and a half. The “HR Manager” says the overtime is a tax season bonus, he includes the OT once per month (we are paid every 2 weeks), and I know by state law it is required to be included in each payroll check. I’ve printed out multiple documents from the U.S. Dept of Labor website but the definitions are either too vague or too specific. I don’t know how to approach this matter and I don’t want to start a lawsuit.

Asked on January 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are non-exempt, you must be paid overtime--there is no way around that, and no legal alternatives to paying it. The Department of Labor lists the tests for exemption, which is something you seem to be aware of. To be an exampt administrative employee, you must be paid on a salaried, not hourly basis; and you must have considerable discretion and/or authority. Below I'll put a link to the DOL test for this exemption.

If you believe you are not exempt and are owed overtime, you have two options: 1) bring a lawsuit; 2) file a complaint with the federal or state labor department. There is no other way to get your overtime, if you believe you deserve it, when your employer will not pay.

Here is the link: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/fs17c_administrative.pdf


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