Denial of Overtime in Massachusetts

The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Massachusetts Wage Act both presume that employees are entitled to overtime. Under both statutes, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

However, employees who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Massachusetts Wage Act are not entitled to overtime. The burden is on the employer to prove that an exemption applies and that they are not entitled to time-and-a-half for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.  

Just because you are paid a salary does not mean you aren’t entitled to overtime.  Instead, you have to be paid a certain salary and perform certain duties that are associated with managerial level employees.  The most common duties that exempt employees from the right to overtime are those associated with the ‘white collar exemptions.’ These exemptions apply to both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Massachusetts Wage Act.

In order to be covered by any of these exemptions, the employee must pass the salary test, meaning he or she must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week. That amount must be predetermined and cannot be reduced because of variations in the quality or quantity of the employee’s work. If an employee does not satisfy the salary test, he or she must be paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, regardless of job title, amount of pay, or job duties.

Employees that pass the salary test must also pass the duties test in order to be disqualified from overtime protections. To satisfy the duties test for executive employees, (1) an employee’s primary duty must be managing the enterprise, or a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise; (2) the employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and (3) the employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or other change in status of other employees must be given significant weight.  All three of these requirements and the salary test must be satisfied in order for an employee to be disqualified from overtime protection by operation of the executive employee exemption.

To satisfy the duties test for administrative employees, (1) the employee’s primary duty must be 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 (2) the employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. Each of these requirements and the salary test must be satisfied in order for an employee to be disqualified from overtime protection by operation of the administrative employee exemption. Employees that may be subject to this test are high-ranking employees in tax, finance, accounting, budgeting, auditing, insurance, quality control, purchasing, procurement, advertising, marketing, research, safety and health, personnel management, human resources, employee benefits, labor relations, public relations, government relations, computer network administration, or legal and regulatory compliance.

To satisfy the duties test for learned professionals, (1) the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment; (2) the advance knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and (3) the advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. All three of these requirements and the salary test must be satisfied in order for an employee to be disqualified from overtime protection by operation of the executive employee exemption. Employees that may be subject to this test are doctors, lawyers, engineers, registered or certified medical technologists, nurses, dental hygienists, physician assistants, accountants, chefs, paralegals, athletic trainers, and funeral directors.   

To satisfy the duties for creative professionals, the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality, or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor. Exemption as a creative professional depends on the extent of the invention, imagination, originality, or talent exercised by the employee. These requirements are generally met by actors, musicians, composers, soloists, painters, writers, cartoonists, and novelists.

Employers go to great lengths to avoid paying their employees overtime, including: (1) misclassifying an employee as exempt from coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Massachusetts Wage Act; (2) calculating hours worked by pay period instead of workweek; (3) asking you to work before or after your shift; (4) asking you to work over your lunch break; (5) refusing to pay you overtime because you worked it without permission or authorization.

Overtime claims are complicated. If you are working more than 40 hours in a week and not being paid overtime, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation. Steffans Legal focuses solely on Massachusetts employment law, including overtime claims. We can help.

Have you been denied overtime in Massachusetts? Contact us for a free consultation.