Executive Exemption

Not Every Executive Position Is Exempt from Overtime Compensation under Tennessee Law

A Tennessee wage and hour lawyer protecting the rights of executive employees in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, or Jackson and beyond

Supervisory and management job titles carry with them a certain cachet that may blind incumbents to some unpleasant realities. An employee’s title may relieve them of the drudgery of punching in and out or taking breaks at fixed times, but they may discover that prestige has its downside, especially when they find their take-home pay may be less, for the same number of hours, than that of some of the people they supervise because they are no longer eligible for overtime compensation. Employers sometimes use this device to “promote” people who have no true management or supervisory responsibilities and are only group leaders.

Job titles do not justify overtime exemptions: your actual job duties do. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) determines the validity of overtime exemptions by observation and analysis of what employees actually do, not what their job descriptions say they do. If your employer has reclassified your job title to avoid paying your overtime, despite the similar nature of your “new” position to the one you previously held, he or she could be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Even if you received a pay increase in the process, you should consider reviewing the matter with one of the experienced Tennessee wage and hour attorneys at Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt, PLC.

Criteria for executive exemptions

The DOL requires an employee to meet all of the following criteria in order to qualify for the Executive overtime exemption:

  • “They must be compensated on a salary basis (not an hourly or fee basis) at a weekly rate of at least $455;
  • Their primary duty must be managing the enterprise, or managing one of its customarily recognized departments or subdivisions;
  • They must direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and
  • They must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or their suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight.”

The Firm’s attorneys know that disputes about executive exemptions typically revolve around the DOL’s definitions of management employees’ duties and activities versus an employee’s actual duties and activities. Besides having authority to hire and fire, or playing a significant role in such, an employee’s duties must include specific “management activities” set forth in DOL bulletins: interviewing, selecting, and training employees;  planning, directing, and evaluating their work; and, appraising their productivity, handling their complaints and grievances, and disciplining them. In addition, the duties could include planning and controlling a budget, and monitoring or implementing legal compliance matters.

Judging from DOL’s interpretive statements it seems clear that work leaders or a so-called “straw bosses” may not be considered true supervisors or managers for overtime purposes, regardless of what their employers call them. Unless your actual duties meet all of the DOL’s criteria for an overtime exemption, you should be receiving overtime pay for hours worked in excess of forty per week. If you are not receiving overtime pay, even if your job title is “supervisor” or “manager,” it is likely misclassified. You should then consider speaking with one of the Firm’s experienced wage and hour lawyers to discuss your options.

Is your employer depriving you of overtime pay because of a job misclassification? Contact a Tennessee lawyer

The Gilbert Firm’s attorneys have built a solid reputation in Tennessee as employment law advocates and have handled FLSA cases across the Southeast and beyond. If you believe you are wrongfully exempted from overtime pay by having been misclassified as an “executive,” we want to hear from you. Please call 888.354.FIRM (3476) to discuss your complaint with an experienced Tennessee wage and hour attorney, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson.

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Gilbert McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC and its attorneys do not maintain a bona fide office in the state of Kentucky, and do not maintain a bona fide office within the area code listed. Bona fide offices are located in Jackson and Franklin, TN.
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