Overtime pay undergoing scrutiny in Michigan

Changes in state and federal law regarding minimum wage, sick days, and overtime may soon affect many Michigan workers.

Michigan lawmakers are undergoing serious debate about wage and hour laws in the state. On June 17, a state Senate committee advanced a bill that would lower minimum wage for workers under 20. On June 30, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that prohibits Michigan municipalities from increasing minimum wage in excess of state or federal minimum wage and from mandating that employees receive paid sick days. In the meantime, worker advocates have attempted to garner support to put the question of paid sick days on the ballot in 2016.

Some good news may be ahead for overworked employees

The question of minimum wage and work/life balance is an important one for many Michigan workers. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees must be paid overtimefor every hour they work beyond 40 hours per week, except for managers, executives, and employees who make higher salaries. But under federal law, what constitutes a "higher salary" is not adjusted for inflation, meaning that managers making relatively low wages can still be forced to work longer hours with little pay.

This in turn has led to many managers and assistant managers at retailers, fast food chains, and other businesses to work for less per hour than the employees they supervise. It also incentivizes businesses to increase the workload of managers, since it costs less to add on work for managers than for hourly employees.

It is with those workers in mind that President Obama recently charged the Labor Department to update the salary requirement. In June, President Obama wrote in The Huffington Post that soon only managers and executives making over $50,440 per year will be exempt from overtime regulations, up from the $23,660 per year it is currently. The new federal regulations could potentially affect tens of thousands of salaried workers in Michigan.

Whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt from federal overtime regulations can be a complex issue. In some cases, Michigan employees are designated as salaried employees, despite having little personal control over work hours or being in non-supervisory positions.

Wage and hour violations

Employers who have taken advantage of federal law to pile work onto managers in the retail sector have not violated any laws. However, if an employer incorrectly classifies a worker as non-exempt, it is possible for that worker to collect overtime pay owed.

In addition, many employers skirt overtime regulations by requiring employees to work through their lunch breaks, or to work "off the clock." Such practices are against state and federal law. Employees who successfully file a lawsuit after experiencing a wage and hour violation are eligible to receive back pay for every overtime hour worked.

Are you receiving all the pay you are owed?

At NachtLaw, our attorneys aggressively protect the rights of employees who have experienced wage and hour violations. Contact our office to discuss your situation and legal options.

Keywords: Overtime pay, Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees, manager pay, Michigan employment law.

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