Many employers in Kentucky regard overtime pay as the unnecessary result of unnecessary regulation. Nevertheless, mandatory overtime pay is required by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, a law that was passed by Congress in 1938 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The rule is easy to state: every employee who receives an hourly wage is entitled to receive 1.5 times the hourly wage for every hour worked in excess of 40 in a single week. For some employers who use very little overtime work, the mandatory overtime requirement is little more than an irritant, but for employers who frequently employees to work long overtime hours, the cost can be significant. These employers resort to several strategies to keep overtime costs at a minimum.

FLSA exemptions

Certain types of employees are exempt from the mandatory overtime requirements of the FLSA. These employees are known as “exempt.” Employees who are covered by the FLSA overtime requirements are known as “non-exempt.” Exempt employees include executive, administrative, professional computer and outside sales personnel. To be exempt, an employee in one of these categories must be paid a salary of not less than $684 per week, the primary duty must involve the performance of typical office or non-manual work and they must exercise discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Claims for unpaid overtime

Many employers attempt to erase the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees by simply applying the label for a bona fide exempt position to what would otherwise be a non-exempt position. This practice is illegal on its face. If a non-exempt employee is denied payment of mandatory overtime, the employee can either bring a claim before the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor or sue the employer in federal court. If the employee prevails, he or she is entitled to be paid all mandatory overtime that was withheld and to be reimbursed for attorneys’ fees.

Seeking assistance

Any person who believes that they have been wrongfully denied overtime compensation may wish to consult an experienced employment lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can review the evidence and provide advice about the most efficient method of recovering unpaid overtime.