Americans enjoy seven fewer hours of leisure time per week than workers in Norway or Germany. After decades of struggle and pro-employee advocacy, Congress enacted a 40-hour default work week by requiring employers to pay time and a half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours. Yet some employers continue to demand that their employees work more than 40 hours without receiving overtime pay. One justification many of them raise is that salaried managers or professionals do not need overtime pay.
The courts in New York and around the country are beginning to look very suspiciously on these exemptions from the 40 hour week for alleged managers and professionals. In cases involving Home Depot, Duane Reade, Rite Aid, and various restaurants, federal judges in Brooklyn and Long Island have ruled that any exceptions to the 40 hour week are narrow and the burden is on the employer. This is because both federal and New York overtime wage laws are meant to protect employees and increase their take-home pay.
Just because an employer refers to a worker as a “manager” doesn’t make it so. The courts have ruled that whether a worker actually performs managerial or sales/customer service tasks are a key factor in determining an employee’s exemption status. Where an employer like a chain restaurant or retailer controls the activities of a worker regardless of location and “manager” title, the worker will typically be entitled to overtime, and may have a cause of action for double the amount of the unpaid overtime wages, including “off-the-clock” work and working meals.
Leeds Morelli & Brown, PC is a nationally recognized firm in the area of employment law. Our firm has had considerable success in matters of employment discrimination throughout Long Island and the New York City area. For more information, contact Leeds, Morelli and Brown, PC at 1-800-585-4658 for a free consultation.