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Exempt Classifications and Overtime

The duty to properly classify employees lies with employers. Thus more often than not, courts are not permitting employers to evade liability for errors in classifications by asserting that they...

Written By: Crystal O'Brien

The duty to properly classify employees lies with employers. Thus more often than not, courts are not permitting employers to evade liability for errors in classifications by asserting that they relied wholly on the "advice of counsel."

For most workplaces and industries, proper classification is a complex task that involves staying abreast of a dynamic workforce to assure that decision makers are regularly meeting with employees to understand what duties and tasks are realistically required to perform a job. Additionally, preparing current job descriptions that objectively identify what skills sets are required.

Generally, when in doubt of whether an employee is "exempt" and therefore not subject to overtime laws, it is always safe to avoid relying on titles and job descriptions alone to make determinations. Consider meeting with similarly situated employees (if possible), and those who will supervise the employee group in question to glean a clear and realistic understanding of what is required by each employee to perform certain job tasks and duties. The indepth review of what a particular job function requires will provide the clearest path to proper classification.

Finally, adopt the approach that erring on the side of caution is the best approach. This means that adopting workplace practices which provide regular work schedule that minimize the need for overtime hours and assure rest and meal breaks. Ideally, your workplace will promote good work/life balance, safety and job satisfaction so that the liabilities, fines, and penalties that can haunt employers who violate FLSA classifications will never be your workplace concern

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