In an ongoing effort to evade the protections provided to employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), including the right to receive overtime pay, employers routinely assign computer employees with specific job titles to justify making them exempt under the FLSA. For example, computer employees are often given job titles such as Support Engineers, IT Professionals, Directors of Management Information Systems, Technology Managers, Information Protection Analysts, Network Analysts, Network Technical Assistance Center Engineers, and Computer Assisted Designers, among others. The problem for employers is that job titles alone do not make computer employees exempt.
In fact, when Congress last amended the computer exemption, it made clear that such job titles alone are entirely irrelevant to a computer employee’s exemption status. Instead, the computer exemption applies (if at all) on an employee-by-employee basis according to the nature of each computer employee’s actual work as judged against the specific and detailed requirements of the computer exemption. Nevertheless, employers continue to assign these types of job titles in an attempt to suggest that computer employees have the requisite skill to perform the primary duties under the computer exemption that would qualify them for exemption.
In reality, despite the job title, most computer employees perform tasks such as data entry, managing backup, preparing operator instructions, running, fixing, or debugging computers, staffing help desks or help lines, changing email passwords, adding and removing names from directories, setting up voicemail, selecting, standardizing and instructing users on hardware needs, preparing flow charts or diagrams showing the order in which a computer must perform operations, and preparing operator instructions, among others.
Despite the computers employee’s job title, such job duties are not likely to qualify for the FLSA computer exemption because they do not meet its primary duty test. The computer exemption requires the use of highly specialized knowledge and skills, such as systems analysis, design, development, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems, computer programming, or software engineering. A detailed description of the computer employee exemption can be found on the Department of Labor’s website: https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17e_computer.pdf.
In essence, if you are taking computer software that was developed, created or modified by someone else and simply installing, maintaining, and debugging it and preparing instructions, charts, performance diagrams or teaching others how to use or install it, you most likely do not qualify for the computer exemption and are entitled to overtime pay.
Do you work with computers and perform similar tasks despite you job title? Are you not paid time and a half for overtime? If so, you may be entitled to overtime pay.
We have successfully represented tens of thousands of workers all across the country in overtime cases. We work on a contingency, meaning we only get paid if we get a recovery for our clients. To learn more about our Wage & Overtime practice, click here.
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