Wage and hour disputes between employers and employees can originate from various circumstances, the most common including a company failing to pay their employees properly for overtime payments, or they may purposely or inadvertently classify their employees incorrectly. Employee misclassification can lead to improper benefit provisions and inaccurate wages paid to employees.
Although employee misclassification often comes into play involving the distinction between employees and independent contractors, it can also occur in regards to exempt and non-exempt employees. Non-exempt employees have certain rights, including receipt of overtime pay and minimum wage, which are not afforded to exempt employees. Essentially, any hours over 40 hours worked in a week entitles a non-exempt employee to receive time and a half wages for that time worked. Employers are not allowed to prevent them from recording these hours, nor may they require these employees to work additional time for free.
Exempt employees, on the other hand, are not entitled to receive overtime pay, nor must they receive the hourly minimum wage. Such employees are typically paid a yearly salary, and the number of hours that they work per week is irrelevant. There are different criteria that may classify an employee as exempt from overtime pay requirements. If an employee is paid on a salary basis, performs duties typically considered exempt and earns at least $23,600 per year, they are often classified as exempt. Exempt job duties are those that are considered administrative, professional, technical or executive in nature.
Employees who feel that they have been incorrectly classified by their employer as exempt, thus preventing them from receiving overtime pay, can enforce their rights. It can be a good idea to get more information in order to determine whether or not your employer is committing a wage and hour violation.
Source: Findlaw, "Exempt Employees vs. Nonexempt Employees," accessed on Aug. 2, 2015