Most employees working over 40 hours a week must be paid overtime.
Overtime pay is 1 ½ times an employee's regular rate of pay. Just because
someone is paid a salary does not mean they are not entitled to overtime.
There several exceptions (called "exemptions") under the Massachusetts Overtime Act and
the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. An
important category of exemption exists for "bona fide" executives, professional, and
administrative personnel. The key terms here is "bona fide." Workers
are often misclassified. Employers have a financial incentive to misclassify workers who are non-exempt (entitled to overtime) as
exempt (not entitled to overtime). The rules governing overtime exemptions
are varied and complex, and there are very few hard and fast rules.
However, your job title does not decide if you get overtime. There is a
long history of employees calling employees "supervisors" and wrongfully not
paying them overtime. Just being a "supervisor" doesn't make you exempt,
especially if you have no real managerial authority and even perhaps perform
physical labor along side other workers.
But here are some technical details.... Exempt executive employees are those who
are paid a salary not less than $455 per week, have as their primary duty to
manage part of the business, regularly direct the work of two or more other
employees, and have the authority to hire or fire other employees or have their
recommendations about hiring, firing, and promotion of other employees taken
very seriously by their bosses.
Exempt administrative employees are those who are paid a salary of at least $455
per week and whose primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work
directly related to the management or general business operations of the
employer or the employer's customers; and whose primary duty includes the
exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of
significance. I think the administrative exemption is the toughest one to
figure out in the real world because it is so susceptible to multiple
interpretations. However, not all employees who work in offices and do
"administrative" tasks are administrative employees for purposes of the
Kelli K. Goodrow vs. Lane Bryant, Inc.,
432 Mass. 165, 170-1 (2000) (discussing bona fide executive test under
Massachusetts and federal law).
There are many other overtime exemptions for specific types of employees in
specific industries. Examples include: certain computer and creative
professionals, outside salespeople, fishermen, seamen, certain truck drivers,
seasonal farm workers, people who work at very small newspapers, some mechanics
at auto dealerships. These are only some examples.
Many overtime cases involve the misclassification of workers as
exempt employees, but other cases simply involve working off the clock. A
common example is when a worker is paid a salary "based on" a 40-hour week, but
that employee works more that 40 hours per week and is not otherwise exempt from
The same protections that exist against retaliation for unpaid wages exist for
complaints about unpaid overtime. In fact, under Massachusetts law if an
employee complains of overtime violations and gets fired or otherwise
discriminated against there is an minimum damage of one month pay. If the
employee who is fired is out of work or underemployed for longer, it is possible
to sue for more retaliation damages.
The statute of limitations for overtime cases is generally two years, but under
federal law can be three years if you can show that your employer willfully
violated the overtime laws.
It can be hard to know if you should be getting overtime pay for overtime hours
worked. You can confidentially send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org describing about your situation. We will let you
know if you have a case that we think is worth pursuing. When we take on a wage or overtime case, we almost always do so
on a contingent fee basis, which means that we do not charge any fees unless there is a successful settlement or judgment.