exempt to non-exempt - back OT?

Several of my co-workers in HR have been changed to non-exempt. We have been told it was due to recent DOL decisions. No one in management has been able to tell us when these decisions occurred. If we were truly misclassified (several have been in their jobs for 10+ yrs as exempt), would we be due back overtime pay? We all have worked over 40 hours/wk pretty regularly.


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  • I know you don't want to hear this, but the answer is: it depends.

    It depends on what decisions. It depends on what your duties have been and how they have been apportioned. It depends.

    It sounds though, as if your management is taking a proactive view. If that is the case, then chances are they are just being cautious and conservative. Chances are no back overtime is due. And if there were some due, since your management is being proactive they would be paying it out (much cheaper than adding penalties.)

    Remember, changing to to non-exempt now does not automatically mean that you were misclassified in the past. The DOL defines exempt and non-exempt on an ongoing basis depending upon the cases that come up. I frequently look at our employees when a new case gets decided. I rarely make any changes, but even when I have made changes I have never felt the need (so far) to go backwards. Courts won't hold employers to guidelines that were not in affect at the time of the occurrance.

    I am sorry this is so vague, but I hope it manages to help you a little.

    Good luck!

  • Thanks for the quick response and the info. You gave me some good points to think about!

    I'm just a little uncomfortable because no one has yet been able to cite any specific DOL decisions and our job descriptions have been the same for well, forever. The feeling I'm getting from mgt is that we have been misclassified for quite a while. I assumed (yes, I know where that can get me) that if a job was erroneously treated as exempt then back OT may come into play.

    It's frustrating, but I am trying to view all this as a learning experience no matter the outcome.
  • Your welcome. Keep in mind that sometimes there isn't a specific item that you can point to, but rather it is a judgement based on weighing a number of factors. I have found a few recent rulings by the DOL to be surprising, and I imagine I am not the only one. Your employer may be like me in that area. It is bizarre, but it always seems that the DOL is harder on employers when certain parties are in power than they are when other parties are. ;) And as I said, it is ever changing, an ongoing process.

    Nevertheless, if you feel you might be due back pay you should do some research on the DOL website yourself. It is always best to make yourself comfortable with a decision that affects you rather than just relying on others' opinions.

    Good luck!

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