For over ten years Dudleydil E. Gent has been the purchasing manager for Effervescent Electronics, at one time supervising as many as ten purchasing agents. Due to the failing economy and lagging sales and in a desperate attempt to save his company, the Effervescent owner Julius C. Dithers directed four forced layoffs in the last eighteen months. To keep his own job, Dudleydil is now the only purchasing agent in his department. Moreover, after each layoff Julius gave Dudleydil more responsibilities and fewer employees to get the job done. Dudleydil is now acting manager of receiving, loading, inventory control, shipping, and the warehouse, in addition to all purchasing responsibilities which he formerly supervised. More than a supervisor, he is doing the “hands on” work for what was over twenty employees. Worse still, Dudleydil is working over eighty-five hours some weeks just to get the job done.

At his wit’s end, Dudleydil just went to see Mr. Dithers to let him know that he was burning out – at both ends! While he values his job, Dudleydil let Mr. Dithers know that he must have more help, and because his wife lost her job, he really needs to get paid more money than his current weekly salary or Mr. Dithers needs to pay Dudleydil for the overtime hours that he is working. Dudleydil could not help but mention that an attorney friend told him that he is legally entitled to be paid for his overtime hours. Do Mr. Dithers and Effervescent owe Dudleydil payment at time and a half for the additional 45 hours a week Dudleydil worked over the last five months?

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor:

There is a real possibility that Mr. Dithers owes Dudleydil overtime compensation. Dudleydil satisfied the statutory requirements as a supervisor before the layoffs, and was properly paid a weekly salary as an exempt employee, without regard to the number of hours he worked. If a salaried employee later fails to meet all the Federal Labor Standards Act requirements for exemption, then he must be paid for overtime hours worked. While Dudleydil was acting as purchasing manager for Effervescent Electronics he was exempt from overtime pay so long as his primary duty was supervisory. If and when Dudleydil performed so much “hands on” work that became his primary duty, then he lost his exempt status. Generally speaking, Effervescent Electronics and Mr. Dithers could continue to treat Dudleydil as exempt so long as he spent over 50% of his time performing supervisory work. When Mr. Dithers required Dudleydil to take on increasing “hands on” work for the departed Effervescent employees, the company risked being responsible to pay Dudleydil for his overtime hours worked at one and one-half times his salaried rate.

See Young v. Cooper Cameron Corp., 08-5847-cv (November 12, 2009)
Also, Coverage Under the FSLA – Exclusions from Coverage, Exempt or Nonexempt?