What are some other exemptions to overtime pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act, passed in 1938, requires employers to pay their employers one a half times their regular rate for any hours worked past 40 hours per week. However, this overtime rule does not apply to every employer and employee.

First, the FLSA only covers employees and not independent contractors. Under the FLSA, employees are those workers who are economically dependent on their employers. Second, the Act only covers employers who have workers that are engaged in or affecting interstate commerce. The interstate commerce requirement is interpreted very broadly and includes most employees.

Lastly, for an employee to receive protection from the FLSA and entitle him to overtime pay he must not be an exempt employee. The FLSA exempts employees who occupy certain positions. Among these exemptions are the seaman exemption, the motor carrier exemption, the emergency response personnel exemption, the car salesperson exemption, and the Railway Labor Act exemption.

Seaman Exemption

The FLSA exempts any employee who is employed as a seaman. However, an employee is not a seaman just because he works on a ship or performs maritime duties. To be classified as a seaman, an employee has to primarily work as an aid in the operation of the ship for purposes of transportation. So, for example, employees who mostly load and unload cargo from ships would not fall under the seaman exemption. However, an employee who spends a substantial part of this time helping navigate the ship would.

Motor Carrier Exemption

The FLSA also exempts any employee that can be regulated by the Secretary of Transportation. Thus, if the Secretary of Transportation can set the qualifications and maximum hours of the position, that employee is exempt from overtime. This exemption applies to employees engaged in transportation by motor carrier between states. Transportation means the process of transporting from manufacturing to the end user.

The exemption mostly applies to operators of motor vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

Emergency Response Personnel Exemption

The FLSA exempts public agency employees who are engaged in fire protection activities from its overtime requirements. So, a firefighter working for the City of Dallas would not be required to be paid overtime. However, the key phrase is “fire protection activities.” An employee engaged in some other service, like medical services, is not exempted even though he is employed by a public firefighting agency. For example, an emergency medical technician working for the same City of Dallas fire station as the firefighter in the above example would not be exempt.

Car Salesperson Exemption

Employers are also not required to pay overtime to any salesmen, parts men, or mechanics who are primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles. While this includes the ordinary salesman at a car dealership, it would exclude dealership finance managers and similar employees who are not primarily engaged in selling cars.

Railway Labor Act Exemption

While called the Railway Labor Act Exemption, this exemption to the FLSA’s overtime requirements has nothing to do with railway labor. It actually exempts employees of air carriers subject to certain provisions of the Railway Labor Act, including common carriers by air who engage in interstate commerce and every air carrier transporting mail for the United States Government.

For example, flight attendants of an airline that provides private jet ownership would be exempt from the FLSA and not eligible for overtime.

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