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  1. #1
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    Oct 2015
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    Default Exempt from Overtime and Pressured into Working 60 Hour Weeks for Only 40k a Year

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Massachusetts(federal question in addition)

    My brother has recently graduated and found himself in a bad situation with a company. Graduating with a simple degree in biology he got a job as a "lab tech"(he builds plastic structures all day with plastic weld) At first it was through a temp hiring agency, they had him work strictly 40 hours and rarely had him go over as it was hourly, then offered him a "pay raise" and move to salary after 6 months which he accepted. Unfortunately now they pressure him almost at threat of losing job to work long hours on top of a long commute into boston daily(i know commute doesnt factor but actual hours worked are at least 50-60 every week) and he does not get paid overtime. His salary only works out to about 20/hr at 40 hours, and was being paid 16/hr while through temp company, but now after working 60hrs a week it actually works out to around only 13/hr

    Is there anything he can do other than quit and find a new job?
    FLSA exempts "proffesional" workers i assume this is what the company is relying on?

    Mass general law chapter 152 section 1a exempts something fairly similair to the flsa as exempt:
    "as a bona fide executive, or administrative or professional person or qualified trainee for such position earning more than eighty dollars per week. "

    My direct interpretation of these is that he is screwed just for holding a college degree he is now a "professional" and can be forced to work as many hours as the company wants and if he doesn't like it he can quit? this doesn't seem right nor in the spirit of the flsa thus i am posting here asking if this truly is the case

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    988

    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    Far more detail about the job is required to even make decent guess.

    It's the nature of the job that counts ...and if a model maker is an hourly job it's still an hourly job if some out of work PhD in Greek History choses to make plastic models . Details of the job matter a lot.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2015
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    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    He is a general lab tech/assistant. He cleans petri dishes, constructs plastic enclosures for housing effluent(waste water) to be treated by bacteria in, occasionally will check the ph of water or soil samples tasks such as these, how many details does the flsa require to determine if its professional or not? seems very arbitrary the way it is written to me

    if you ask him hes a dish cleaner and plastic welder, if you ask the company they'd probably say he is "an experienced biochemical reactor constructor and maintainer" in relation to his exempt status so defining the limit at "professional" job is maybe what I'm unclear on, official title is "lab assistant"

    They still moved a 40 hour a week hourly worker up to 60 hours once they got him on salary and threaten his job basically if he does not keep up with it. Where does the limit end? what if they wanted 70 hours? 80? 100? a company can fire a exempt worker for refusing to work 100 hour week while only getting the salary of a 40 hour week as long as these terms are not in salary contract?

  4. #4
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    Jan 2015
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    1,142

    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    Call Wage and Hour in your state. They can give you all the information he needs.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    FYI, if he is truly exempt (and I have my doubts from your description), he could be required to work 168 hours a week (169 hours this week since we're changing the clocks) and he would not be owed a penny of overtime. That's what exempt employees are exempt FROM - overtime pay. And MA, along with 47 other states, has no legal limit to the number of hours an employee can be made to work as long as he is paid properly.

    However, I suspect that he does not really qualify as exempt. Your brother should investigate the attached link.

    http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-busine...complaint.html

    BTW, as a non-exempt worker he can still be required to work as many hours as the employer requires - it's just that he would have to be paid time and a half for any hours over 40 in a week.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    Quote Quoting chlln
    View Post
    Where does the limit end? what if they wanted 70 hours? 80? 100? a company can fire a exempt worker for refusing to work 100 hour week while only getting the salary of a 40 hour week as long as these terms are not in salary contract?
    It ends where your brother says it ends. If he's so afraid of losing his job that he won't put a stop to this himself then he'll continue to be a slave to the employer for as long as he works there.

    My advice to him: Show up at 9 AM leave at 5 PM. Anybody has a problem with that say "I'm paid to work 40 hours, I work 40 hours. You want me to work more than 40 hours pay me overtime.

    If the response is "You're fired" then he goes on unemployment and looks for another job.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2014
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    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    Quote Quoting cbg
    View Post
    FYI, if he is truly exempt (and I have my doubts from your description), he could be required to work 168 hours a week (169 hours this week since we're changing the clocks) and he would not be owed a penny of overtime. That's what exempt employees are exempt FROM - overtime pay. And MA, along with 47 other states, has no legal limit to the number of hours an employee can be made to work as long as he is paid properly.

    However, I suspect that he does not really qualify as exempt. Your brother should investigate the attached link.

    http://www.mass.gov/ago/doing-busine...complaint.html

    BTW, as a non-exempt worker he can still be required to work as many hours as the employer requires - it's just that he would have to be paid time and a half for any hours over 40 in a week.
    You change your clocks this week, and you're going to be early for a week. Time change is November 1st.
    Don't make me quote Monty Python at you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,488

    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    You're right; my internal calendar gets out of sync when I've been working on the next weeks/months schedules at work. I forget what date it is and think it's later than it is.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    If fired for refusing to work over 40 hours would he still be eligible for unemployment? (I assume yes this is Massachusetts after all)

    Is really the line between exempt and non exempt as vague as "professional worker"?

    If he does win such a complaint is he entitled to back pay?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    1,142

    Default Re: Exempt from Overtime at Only 40k a Year and Pressured into Working 60hr Weeks

    In order to be eligible for unemployment when fired, the employer has to show that they had a valid misconduct reason to terminate the employee. Refusal of overtime may be an "okay to fire" offense, as long as the overtime is paid according to wage and hour laws concerning overtime. In other words, if they fire him because he refuses to work overtime because he isn't getting paid more and it's legal for them not to pay him overtime, then he probably will not have a very good chance of getting qualified for unemployment insurance. Likewise if he quits. If they are giving him overtime and not paying him for the overtime as required by wage and hour laws, he would have a pretty good argument to show he had a valid job related reason to quit the job. But if he just doesn't want to, though it is legal, that's another story.

    If I were he, I think I'd try to do some less dramatic negotiation before I threw down the "I refuse!" gauntlet. Perhaps he needs to tell them he will not be available to work tonight because he has something else to do. Or that he is going to be able only to work his regular shift this week, no weekend work, because he has something else to do, or he feels tired, or something. Many times, they'll be happy to take advantage of him if he's willing, but if he refuses, they won't fire him, knowing they'd be hard pressed to find another willing victim to work for them for this. In any case, he needs to be looking diligently for another job while he is still working. They're not going to improve considerably, even if he convinces them to pay him more or give him less overtime work.

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