Salaried Employees

Misclassification of salaried employees occurs when an employer wrongly classifies an employee as a salaried employee when the employee should be considered an hourly or other type of employee. The biggest issue related to salary is whether an employee is considered "exempt" or "not-exempt" from overtime pay. "Exempt" and "not-exempt" are legal classifications, but many companies are unclear about the distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees.

If you have questions related to job classification, contact an Atlanta employment attorney for more information.

What is a "Salary"?

A salary is a regular and predictable payment to an employee that is distributed during each pay period in which the employee worked. Most salaried employees are expected to work a 40-hour work week, and most receive benefits such as sick leave and vacation time.

If an employee's job functions meet certain criteria, however, the employee may be considered to be exempt from overtime, even if the employee works more than 40 hours per week. Generally, salaried employees can vary their schedules without having to punch a time clock or stay late to make up for time spent at a doctor's appointment – but the FLSA does not prohibit an employer from imposing these rules on an exempt, salaried employee. Employers can also require salaried employees to attend meetings or events that occur outside of normal business hours.

Generally, employees who earn less than $23,600 per year cannot be considered exempt, while employees who earn more than $100,000 are almost always exempt. Employees who earn an amount between these two salaries fall into a gray area.

How Do I Determine if an Employee Should Be Exempt?

A job title alone does not determine whether a job should be classified as exempt. Exemption depends on what type of work an employee performs, how much the employee is paid, and how the employee is paid. For instance, if an employee has a guaranteed minimum amount of income that he or she can count on receiving during any week in which he or she performs work, the employee is more likely to be considered exempt.

Penalties for Misclassification

Because the penalties associated with misclassification can be onerous, employers must accurately classify their employees. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and payment of back overtime and other compensation owed to employees, both current and former.

The base pay of a salaried employee may not be reduced due to low quality or quantity of work performed. However, an employer may dock pay for disciplinary suspensions or for unpaid personal leave.

Salaried employees who are exempt from overtime must perform high-level work. The actual job tasks of an employee must be assessed in order to determine whether the employee should be exempt from overtime. Three types of exempt job duties are administrative, executive, and professional duties.

If your employer docks your pay if you have variations in your schedule but fails to pay you for overtime, then you should contact an attorney immediately. You may have been misclassified. You may be eligible to recover overtime pay or other lost payments that you suffered because of the misclassification.