You can’t make enough money to be exempt from overtime. In a surprising decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that an employee who made over $215,000.00 per year was entitled to overtime payments. In Helix Energy Solutions Group v. Hewitt, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Mr. Hewitt, a former employee, was eligible for overtime pay because he was paid on a daily basis, not a guaranteed salary basis. Mr. Hewitt’s daily pay varied. So, regardless of the fact that he earned $248,053 in 2015 and $218,863 in 2016, Helix Energy Solutions should have been paying him overtime, per the Court. According to the Court, “salary” as used in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “connotes a steady and predictable stream of pay” and must be paid by the week or longer period.
Why mention this decision?
- To highlight that the Court reads the FLSA regulations in a very technical way, and accordingly, employers must educate themselves about the requirements. Employers have to prove in court that employees are exempt from overtime.
- It doesn’t matter if the payment is very generous. I’ve had a number of clients investigated for violations, even when the pay was more than fair.
- Shock value. I want to meet the attorney who agreed that Mr. Hewitt should sue and pursue overtime payments all the way to the Supreme Court.
Let me know if this raises any FLSA questions about classifying people as exempt or non-exempt and compliance with the overtime law.
ABOUT KATHERINE WITHERSPOON FRY
For over 25 years, Katherine has provided her clients with robust representation in matters of employment and related business law. Katherine represents and counsels employers and executives in all facets of the employment relationship, including hiring, termination, discrimination, non-competition, Fair Labor Standards Act matters, issues regarding Family and Medical Leave and other leaves, whistleblowers’ complaints, and regulatory matters. As a litigator, she is well aware of the nuances of law necessary to draft effective restrictive covenants, severance agreements, and employment contracts. Along with her over 250 colleagues, she represents companies and non-profit organizations of all sizes. She has defended companies under investigation by both U.S. and state Departments of Labor and handled multiple matters before the EEOC.