What You Need to Know About Exempt Employee Laws in Georgia

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes exemptions from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for certain employees. Here’s everything you need to know about exempt employee laws in Georgia.

Georgia law has no provision regarding exempt employees, who thus fall within the federal FLSA. Under the FLSA, certain employees are ineligible for any protection awarded under the Act, including minimum wage, overtime pay, and record-keeping provisions. The FLSA also creates an exemption solely for overtime pay requirements and an exemption for executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees.

Applicable Laws for Exempt Employees in Georgia

Georgia doesn’t have specific laws regarding exempt employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines and regulates all employment matters applying to exempt employees.

The FLSA sets the federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour and the minimum overtime pay at 1.5 times the regular pay rate. It also includes provisions regarding youth employment and record-keeping.

The FLSA excludes “exempt employees” from these federal protections. It distinguishes between exemptions from all FLSA coverage (minimum wage, overtime pay, other requirements regarding record-keeping) and exemptions from overtime pay. Another exemption concerns executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees.

Related: Georgia Minimum Wage FAQs

Exemptions From All FLSA Coverage

Under federal law, the following employees do not benefit from any of the FLSA protections, including provisions on minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, and record-keeping:
· employees in the seasonal amusement or recreational industries;
· employees of small newspapers;
· switchboard operators of small telephone companies;
· seamen employed on foreign vessels;
· employees performing fishing tasks;
· employees performing newspaper delivery tasks;
· farm workers employed on small farms;
· casual babysitters;
· employees serving as companions to the elderly or infirm;
· highly compensated employees who must meet the following criteria:
a. they perform office or non-manual work;
b. they receive a total annual compensation of $100,000 or more;
c. they regularly perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative or professional employee.

The duties of exempt executive, administrative or professional employees undergo further explanation below.

Exemptions From Overtime FLSA Coverage

The FLSA identifies certain exemptions from overtime pay coverage, meaning the following exempt employees do not benefit from the federal minimum overtime rate:
· certain commissioned employees of retail or service establishments;
· auto, truck, trailer, farm implement, boat, or aircraft salespersons;
· auto, truck, or farm implement parts clerks and mechanics;
· railroad and air carrier employees;
· taxi drivers;
· certain employees of motor carriers;
· seamen on American vessels;
· announcers, news editors, and chief engineers of certain non-metropolitan radio/television stations;
· domestic service workers living in their employer’s residence;
· employees of motion picture theaters;
· farmworkers.

Exemption for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Computer, and Outside Sales Employees

Besides the above-cited specific exemptions, the FLSA also sets general requirements of non-eligibility to minimum wage and overtime pay. This exemption concerns executive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employees.

Federal law established a three-step test to determine if an employee qualifies under this exemption. The three components of the test are salary basis, salary level, and employee duties:
1. the employee must receive compensation on a salary basis;
2. the employee must receive a salary of at least $684 per week;
3. the employee must perform executive, administrative, professional, computer-related, or outside sale-related duties.

Under this provision, compensation on a salary basis has a specific definition. According to the Wage and Hour Division at the US Department of Labor, salaried employees receive a predetermined amount of compensation each pay period on a weekly or less frequent basis.

Related: Tipped Employee Rights in Georgia

The FLSA also defines executive, administrative and professional duties for applying this provision. An employee engaged in executive tasks must complete all the following duties:
1. they must manage the enterprise or a subdivision of the enterprise;
2. they must regularly direct the work of at least two full-time employees;
3. they must have the authority to fire and hire employees, or their recommendations regarding employees’ status have particular weight.

An employee engaged in administrative activities must:
1. perform office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer;
2. exercise discretion and independent judgment concerning matters of significance.

The exemption regarding professional duties has two subdivisions:
the learned professional exemption, which requires advanced knowledge and the exercise of predominantly intellectual activities;
the creative professional exemption, which concerns the performance of work requiring invention and talent in a recognized artistic field.

Employee Misclassification in Georgia

Employers who misclassify non-exempt employees into the exempt category violate the FLSA. Misclassification has concrete consequences for employees because they cannot claim overtime pay which they should be entitled to.

Misclassified employees may file an overtime lawsuit to recover their overtime pay under the FLSA. Plaintiffs may also recover liquidated damages amounting to double the back overtime pay if their employer willfully misclassified them.

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