What type of employee are you? One that logs every hour of the week or one that has an annual salary? To many Washington employees, his or her classification as exempt or nonexempt may seem like a HR technicality and consequently they pay very little mind to it. The truth is that your employee classification is very important because this status controls things like overtime regulations and other wage issues.
The Fair Labor Fair Labor Standards Act Act (FLSA) governs this area of employment law in Washington and throughout the rest of the country. So what’s the distinction? Generally speaking, the employment classification distinction usually depends on how much an employee is paid, how an employee is paid, and the type of work he or she does.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what each exemption status means:
Nonexempt Employees: Nonexempt employees are those employees that have a forty hour work week. 9-5, 8-4…however you structure your days, you are recording your time in order to get paid. These are usually employees that are working under a manager and do not have a professional degree or other employees that report to them. Under FLSA, nonexempt employees must earn time and half for their overtime hours. It is always a good idea to keep your own track of the hours you work in addition to the logs that your employer keeps.
Exempt Employees: Exempt employees in Washington (or salaried employees) are those individuals that perform high-level work or work as a “learned professional.” Of course there are other tests to determine this but if you are serving as a professional (such as a lawyer or accountant) or manage more than two employees, your exempt status disqualifies you from overtime protections.
You should know what your employee classification is and the rights that come with it. Unfortunately, many Washington employers try to thwart their overtime duties to their nonexempt employees by forcing them to work off the clock or misclassifying them as an exempt employee. Both these tactics are illegal and although the employer may be saving some money in the short run, courts across the country are coming down hard on these profit-seeking tactics.
If you feel like you have been misclassified as a Washington employee, you should first bring it up with your employer—it is possible that there was a mistake. If that conversation does not fix the problem, you should get in touch with a Washington employment attorney to discuss your options. For those Washington employers reading this, make sure you are aware of the proper classifications for your employees to avoid legal trouble down the road—a Washington employment attorney can help you with this.
So do yourself a favor after you read this post and check your employment classification. You work hard for your money and should be getting paid the amount you have earned.