Overview of the FLSA Exemptions - The Computer Professional

Fair Labor Standards Act

Many computer employees working in the Information Technology (IT) field are entitled to the payment of  minimum wages and overtime pay unless they meet the specific exemption requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In this post, we will discuss the requirements for the Computer Professional exemption.

The Computer Professional

In order to qualify for the Computer Professional exemption, the FLSA requires that the following requirements are met:

  1. The Computer Professional must be paid at least a salary of $455 per week or receive an hourly rate of at least $27.63 per hour; and
  2. The Computer Professional’s primary duty must consist of (a) the application of system analysis techniques & procedures to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications, (b) the design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer systems or programs, or (c) a combination of these duties.  See 29 C.F.R. 541.400.

Unless both of these requirements are met, the computer worker will be entitled to overtime and minimum wages.  In the paragraphs that follow, we will provide you with an overview of the analysis that must go into determining whether these requirements are met.  One key point to remember while reading is that it is the employer’s burden to prove that its employee is exempt from the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the Act.

First, the employer must show that the Computer Professional receives an hourly rate of at least $27.63 or a true salary.  Obviously, it is not difficult to show the amount of an hourly rate, however, demonstrating that an employee is paid a true salary is often more difficult.  As we have discussed in other posts, there are many pitfalls to a salary that can prevent the applicability of the FLSA exemptions. For example, certain deductions may cause an employee who would be otherwise exempt from overtime to be entitled to both minimum wages and overtime pay.  If your weekly pay fluctuates based on the number of hours worked or your employer makes deductions to your pay, you should contact an experienced wage and hour law attorney to make sure that such deductions do not make you eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay.  For more information about whether you are being properly paid on a salary, please review this article on the characteristics of a salary.

Second, the employer must prove that your primary duty consists of the determination of hardware, software or system functional specifications based on the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs related to machine operating systems or based on user/system design specifications, or some combination of these duties.  Determining whether an employee satisfies these requirements as an exempt Computer professional is often very difficult and requires a detailed analysis by an experienced attorney to determine the exemption is met.

If you are an IT or computer employee with questions about your compensation, contact an experienced wage and hour employment lawyer today.