• President Obama Directs the "Updating and Modernizing" of the Fair Labor Standards Act's Overtime Regulations
  • April 10, 2014 | Author: Rachel Geman
  • Law Firm: Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP - New York Office
  • Employees are entitled to receive overtime pay unless they fall into narrow exemptions. The reason is that work is supposed to be spread across employees, lowering unemployment, and preventing unnecessary and entirely avoidable overwork.

    As the economy has changed over the many decades since the Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938, the workplace has changed in many fundamental respects. However, certain realities persist: whether the work involves use of an actual toolkit, automated software, or a detailed procedures manual, much work is in fact routinized. And, whatever the job title may say and despite limited authority, few of us are actually and meaningfully in charge.

    Unfortunately, many hard-working employees are improperly characterized as high-level administrative employees or executives and as a result are deprived of the overtime premium pay they deserve and that they and their families need.

    Some common examples of unlawful misclassification in which employees have been able to vindicate their rights for overtime pay involve computer technical support workers, insurance company adjusters and employees, consultants, assistant managers, and others.

    As President Obama said on March 13 in directing the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations:

    [R]egulations regarding exemptions from the Act's overtime requirement, particularly for executive, administrative, and professional employees (often referred to as "white collar" exemptions) have not kept up with our modern economy. Because these regulations are outdated, millions of Americans lack the protections of overtime and even the right to the minimum wage.

    Employers have every incentive to avoid paying overtime, and many workers are misclassified as a result. It is important that the regulations governing the narrow scope of the overtime exemptions be updated and reinforced. The simple truth is that most employees are entitled to overtime, and for very good reason.