When 'exempt' employees don't perform their duties, classifying them gets tricky
- When exempt employees refuse to perform their duties and then claim they’re owed overtime, courts aren’t buying that argument, Ed Zalewski writes for The Business Journals.
- Several courts have ruled that exempt employees, who are generally expected to manage, hire, fire, evaluate and discipline staff, can’t refuse to perform these duties and then claim that they don’t pass the exempt test.
- The duties performed determine employees’ classification, even if they’re not listed in the job description, Zalewski says.
Employees who are expected to perform administrative, or managerial, tasks are properly classified as “exempt,” and therefore not eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s job classification rules. Court rulings that reject exempt employees’ overtime claims might help HR keep workers properly classified.
The FLSA overtime rule may have made those distinctions more confusing. The rule expands nonexempt status to include more workers. Classifying employees seems to have shifted from focusing on the definitions of “exempt” and “nonexempt” to raising wage levels, with employers adjusting pay grades to avoid paying overtime.
The overtime rule is on hold for now, but HR must be ready to comply when court decisions are final. The Trump administration might even scrap the rule, as it’s vowed to do with most pro-worker legislation.