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Who is Entitled to Overtime Pay? 

Chris Sanders Law PLLC Feb. 6, 2023

When the U.S. government first began tracking working conditions in the nation in 1890, it found that the workweek in manufacturing averaged a whopping 100 hours. Back then, there was no nationwide minimum wage or requirement for overtime pay, although Illinois in 1867 had tried implementing an 8-hour workday. Workers celebrated that initiative on what has now become known as May Day, but the celebration quickly turned to riots.  

Two years later, President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation instituting an 8-hour workday for government workers. Trade unions across the country, including the National Labor Union and the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, picked up on the proclamation and began lobbying for a nationwide 8-hour-a-day work standard.   

That nationwide standard would have to wait until the onset of the Great Depression and the subsequent election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as president. The FDR Administration was able to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, which not only legislated a standardized 40-hour workweek but also mandated minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.  

The FLSA relied on the government’s constitutional right to regulate interstate commerce, so in the beginning, some businesses could escape the minimum wage and overtime requirements by claiming they were locally owned and sourced and their customers were also only local. Though if an out-of-state visitor frequented their establishment, that argument would vanish.  

Under the FLSA, states were required to follow the standards set by the FLSA and any updates made to it by Congress or the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), though they were free to surpass the federal mandates. Under the FLSA, hourly workers are to be paid time-and-a-half for every hour worked past 40 in a 7-day workweek. Some states now require overtime after 8 hours of work in a single day, though Kentucky is not one of them.  

If you suspect your place of work in or around Louisville, Kentucky, is not observing overtime pay requirements, contact me at Chris Sanders Law PLLC. I can help you organize an effort to bring the injustice to light. As a l may be grounds for a class action lawsuit. on behalf of aggrieved workers.

Who Is Entitled to Overtime Pay? 

Hourly employees are the prime beneficiaries of overtime mandates. The FLSA carves out a distinction between workers paid an hourly wage (non-exempt) and those who are compensated on a salary and/or commission basis (exempt), though the latter must fall into certain categories to qualify.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor: “Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. Section 13(a)(1) and Section 13(a)(17) also exempts certain computer employees. To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $684 per week.”  

Thus, being salaried does not exempt an employee from overtime pay requirements. The employee must be engaged in executive, administrative, professional, computer, or outside sales positions paying at least $684 a week as of this writing to be exempt. Those who are paid salaries in other positions at a lesser rate are still entitled to overtime pay computed as an hourly wage. 

Kentucky’s Laws on Overtime Pay 

Kentucky mostly follows the federal standards for minimum wage and overtime pay. The current federal minimum wage, set way back in 2009, is $7.25 an hour, which is the standard that Kentucky now adheres to. Kentucky also adheres to the FLSA standard for overtime pay, which means time-and-a-half is due for every hour after 40 in a workweek.   

Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 337.285, however, exempts employees from overtime if they work for a business that did less than $95,000 in gross sales in the past five years in retail operations, hotel or motel operations, or as a restaurant. Agricultural workers, seamen, taxi drivers, live-in caregivers, and independent contractors are exempt.  

Kentucky has an additional provision on overtime that requires nonexempt employees to be paid overtime if they work seven days in a single workweek, provided they work at least 40 hours. The overtime is to be paid for the seventh day of work.  

Also, note that Kentucky does not allow a private employer to substitute comp time – for equivalent time off for additional hours worked – for actual overtime pay. Time-and-a-half must be paid. (Governments can substitute comp time for their employees.) Kentucky law also does not limit the number of hours an employer can require you to work in a day or in a workweek, only that overtime must be paid.   

What Counts as Overtime? 

Employers are obligated to establish standards and procedures for overtime, for instance, in an employee handbook or other company-wide document. Whether under a policy or not, if an employee continues to work after hours, authorized or not, the employee still must be paid and the work counted toward overtime.

Other work "after hours" may be compensable, too. For example, eligible salaried workers and hourly workers performing work tasks or taking calls at home could be entitled to overtime, if performed over 40 hours in a week. 

Speak with an Experienced Attorney 

If you see signs that your employer is not following overtime laws, reach out to me immediately. Let’s discuss what’s going on and come up with a strategy to ensure everyone’s rights at work are being honored.   

Contact me at Chris Sanders Law PLLC. I am a strong advocate for social justice and improving the lives of the hard-working citizens of Kentucky and around the counI am also an activist and organizer who is intimately involved in movements to improve working conditions and bring about social justice.