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Should Salaried Employees Get Overtime Pay?

By Douglas Lipsky

Jessica, a graphic designer in New York, recently discovered that despite working 50 hours a week, she wasn’t receiving any overtime pay. She assumed this was normal as a salaried employee until a colleague opened her eyes to her rights under New York Labor Law. This story highlights a common issue many salaried employees face: understanding their eligibility for overtime pay. 

Understanding Overtime Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the standard for overtime pay across the U.S., generally requiring employers to pay employees one and a half times their regular pay rate for hours over 40 in a workweek. However, not all employees are eligible for overtime pay under these laws.

In addition to the FLSA, New York Labor Law provides specific guidelines for overtime pay within the state. New York’s regulations may offer additional protections or specify different criteria for overtime eligibility. For employees, it’s essential to understand these rules to ensure you receive the correct compensation for your work, especially when working extra hours. Awareness of these legal standards is vital in protecting your rights as an employee.

New York Labor Law on Overtime

New York Labor Law specifies its own rules for overtime pay, which complement the federal standards set by the FLSA. Here are some key aspects:

  • Eligibility for Overtime: New York requires employers to pay overtime of one and a half times the regular rate for hours over 40 in a workweek.
  • Exemptions: The law also details certain exemptions where specific categories of employees may not be eligible for overtime pay.

Employees in New York need to understand these state-specific regulations, as they can impact the calculation of overtime and determine who is entitled to receive it. Awareness of these laws ensures they protect their rights and receive the correct compensation for their overtime hours.

Exempt v. Nonexempt Employees

In understanding overtime pay, it’s essential to distinguish between exempt and non-exempt employees, a classification determined by factors like job duties and salary level. Exempt employees, typically in professional, managerial, or administrative roles, are not eligible for overtime pay under federal and New York Labor Law. They often have more flexibility and higher salaries than non-exempt workers.

Non-exempt employees, on the other hand, are covered by overtime regulations. They are paid hourly and are entitled to overtime pay at one and a half times their regular hourly rate for hours worked over 40 per week. Knowing your classification as exempt or non-exempt is crucial, as it directly impacts your rights to overtime pay under New York Labor Law.

Salary Thresholds for Exempt Employees In New York

The New York State Department of Labor recently updated the minimum salary thresholds for exempt executive and administrative employees. Effective January 1, 2024, in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties, the threshold is $1,200 per week (about $62,400 annually). For the rest of the state, it’s $1,124.20 per week (approximately $58,458.40 per year). 

These thresholds are set to increase annually through 2026. This change impacts employees exempt from overtime pay requirements under New York law, emphasizing the importance for employers to review their payroll practices.

When To Call An Attorney

Calling an attorney is a significant step when navigating complex employment issues, especially when your efforts to resolve matters internally are unsuccessful, or you are facing a legal dilemma. Seeking legal counsel is advisable if your employer needs to comply with wage laws, including overtime pay for eligible employees, or if you believe you’re misclassified as an exempt employee. Attorneys can clarify your rights and the best course of action based on current labor laws.

Additionally, if you’re facing retaliation for raising concerns about wage issues or other workplace rights, an attorney can help protect your interests. Legal professionals can guide you through filing a claim, negotiating settlements, or proceeding with litigation if necessary. Remember, timely legal intervention can be crucial in safeguarding your rights and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.

Get The Overtime Pay You Earned

Talk to an employment lawyer if you’re uncertain about your situation or believe your rights have been violated. Remember, protecting your rights in the workplace is crucial, and knowledgeable legal support can make a significant difference in resolving these matters.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.