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Understanding federal mandatory overtime laws

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2021 | Employment Law |

North Carolina employers are required by law, both state and federal, to pay their employees the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Neither state nor federal law limits the number of hours that an employee can be required to work in a single week or month.

The only limit is the requirement contained in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that employers pay their employees at least 150% of their regular wage for every hour worked in excess of 40 in a single week. However, this requirement does not apply to every employee, and both employers and employees need to understand the basic rules of coverage under the FLSA and North Carolina law.

Who is exempt and who is not?

One of the most widely misunderstood requirements of the mandatory overtime provisions of the FLSA and regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Labor is the difference between exempt and non-exempt employees.

This misunderstanding is rooted in the fact that the FLSA was originally intended to benefit wage earners. Thus, employees who were salaried and who performed mostly managerial tasks were not subject to the mandatory overtime requirements. Many employers attempted to avoid application of the mandatory overtime rule by paying employees a salary and classifying them as managerial regardless of the kind of work they actually performed. The Labor Department met these efforts with regulations that required the classification of exempt statue to be based upon factual evidence that the exempt employee was in fact performing managerial work.

Remedies for breach of overtime rules

Employees who believe that they have been misclassified by their employer in order to avoid paying mandatory overtime have substantial legal rights, including the right to recovery unpaid overtime, damages equal to 100% of the unpaid overtime, and reimbursement of legal fees.

Anyone who feels that they have been denied paid overtime in violation of the mandatory overtime rules may wish to consult an experienced employment attorney. A capable attorney can evaluate the evidence and provide an estimate of the likelihood of recovering unpaid overtime, damages and attorneys’ fees.