1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

FLSA Exempt?

Discussion in 'Wage and Hour, Overtime' started by Anon-e-Mouse, May 22, 2021.

  1. Anon-e-Mouse

    Anon-e-Mouse Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Jurisdiction:
    Wisconsin
    Apologies in advance for the length of this question.

    I believe that my position has been "dumbed down" and my responsibilities have been reduced (by newly instituted micromanagement) to the point that I no longer qualify as FLSA Exempt. Is this even possible? My co-workers and I (not just me) have been buried under a blizzard of new paperwork, checklists, flowcharts and detailed processes, every tiny step of which needs to be documented, for performing tasks that we used to be considered professionally competent to do using our own professional judgement, training, and expertise.

    Our employee handbook says that if you have a grievance you must first attempt to work it out informally with your boss. If that doesn't solve the problem you can file a formal grievance with your boss. If you aren't satisfied with the result, there is no appeal unless it involves unsafe working conditions or discrimination or a few other things which this isn't.

    After raising this issue in conversation with my boss a number of times I sent a letter to my boss almost a month ago (to which I have received no response) that said, in part:

    ---------------------------------------
    "The question is whether I’m appropriately classified as FLSA Exempt any more. From the time I was first hired here, [employer] determined and I agreed that my job was FLSA Exempt. I believe that my ability to exercise discretion and independent judgment (Federal requirements for this administrative position to be FLSA Exempt) have been reduced to the point of being negligible (see below) which causes me to question whether I am now, differently from in the past, (a) permanently assigned to duties and tasks below my pay grade, and/or (b) now mis-classified as Exempt, having effectively received a demotion (permanent reduction in responsibilities)."

    "If I am no longer appropriately classified as FLSA Exempt, then [employer] would be required to pay me time-and-a-half for all hours worked each week > 40. For the sake of comparison, I currently routinely work approximately 13 hours/day (roughly 6 a.m – 5 p.m. + 8 p.m –10 p.m.) M-F and approximately 4 hrs ea on Saturday & Sunday, = approximately 73 hours/week (average) while being paid for 36 hours/wk. If I were not classified as FLSA Exempt [employer] would owe me $3,591.40/wk (including overtime pay) for the work I am currently doing, which is $2,178.40/wk more than the $1,413.00/wk it is currently paying me. This would have amounted to approximately $113,256.00 in additional pay in just the past year, more over a longer lookback period."

    "I have been working far more than 40 hours/week for a number of years now as my workload has been steadily increasing, under the possibly mistaken belief that this is what my Exempt position required of me (as much time as it takes to get the work done), that any perceived decrease in my responsibilities or “dumbing down” of my workload was either (a) only in my imagination, or (b) only temporary, and that to be a valuable employee I needed be a team player or see the larger picture and do what needs to be done without complaining about it being beneath my pay grade."
    ---------------------------------------

    Having received no response, and with nothing having changed, what is my next step? Are my only choices to "voluntarily" continue to accept this misclassification or look for another job? I really don't want, as some coworkers have advised, to just "stop working" after 40 hours and if lots of stuff doesn't get done then it just doesn't get done. Its just not in my DNA to do that. I take pride in doing my job well, and don't want to leave important things undone, people waiting indefinitely for work they're expecting from me, or cutting so many corners that I make errors and do everything only 1/2-way just to be able to say it's been done.

    It breaks my heart to even write this, as this was once my dream job that I absolutely loved and threw myself into with a passion. I have always received outstanding performance evaluations and I have data to prove that my performance, as currently measured, has been among the highest anywhere in the organization over the past 10 years.

    But new management seems only focused on distrusting and micromanaging everybody and it has become far less than the job I once loved and at which I have excelled. Changing jobs right now would have severe consequences on vesting in my retirement pension, which I have heard many coworkers over the years refer to as the "Golden Handcuffs." That is, you'd lose too much by leaving so you're stuck there no matter what they do to you from that point on. I never wanted to believe that was something that would really happen to a good hardworking employee, but it seems to be true, and it is heartbreaking.

    Is there some way to file a complaint with a Federal agency for violating the FLSA law? I looked up EEOC and they don't seem to handle this kind of complaint.
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,661
    Likes Received:
    954
    Trophy Points:
    113

    Your post does not include the kinds of details that would allow anyone here to get a sense if you are truly exempt or not. However, you might find reviewing U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Fact Sheet #17 helpful to you to see if you think you might not be exempt.

    As far as federal agencies go, you are correct that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) doesn't deal with this. The EEOC only deals with complaints of illegal discrimination by an employer. You'd want to contact instead the DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

    Your other option is to see an attorney who handles labor law for employees to see about suing your employer for the pay you believe you are owed. You'll need evidence to prove the hours you worked to succeed with that.
     
    Anon-e-Mouse likes this.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    8,874
    Likes Received:
    2,781
    Trophy Points:
    113

    Deja Vu. I thought I was reading my own story there. Not the exempt vs non-exempt part but my love of my job vs the micro-managing by the employer when the new company President was installed.

    Actually, your best and only choice is to find another job and get out of there. You've already sealed your doom by writing that letter. Your employer is not going to fix this. You'll be viewed as a malcontent and, eventually, your employment will be terminated. It won't be right away and it will be subtle enough so you won't be able to prove retaliation.

    While you are still there study up on exempt vs non-exempt and, if you are non-exempt, amass documentation that you can use in a lawsuit or a wage claim.

    And don't be so naive on your next job. ;)
     
    Anon-e-Mouse likes this.
  4. retic

    retic New Member

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    3
    In WI the statute of limitations for wage claims is two years. Your other posts indicate that you had been working from home due to COVID so you should be able to log in this weekend and either download or get screen captures of your timesheets. Hopefully you've been reporting actual hours worked rather than 40/week, in case the DOL does determine that you've been misclassified.

    Also do you work in IT? I swear we could be working for the same company based on your description of how things have changed.
     
  5. Anon-e-Mouse

    Anon-e-Mouse Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Not in I.T. per se, but in a closely related field. Who knows, maybe we do work for the same company. But as I've talked with more people I've discovered there seems to be a lot of this kind of thing going around lately.
     

Share This Page