There are thousands upon thousands of employees working in some of the most sought-after fields of information technology (IT) and information services (IS). Many of these fields require a high level of technical knowledge that many Americans do not understand.
Both IT and IS fields supply nearly every aspect of contemporary life– anywhere from computers that ring up your groceries, to preventing a website from getting hacked. These are the people with the knowledge who keep our economy and our world operating.
Many of these employees are told they do not qualify for overtime. This information is just not correct. Computer technicians, IT support specialists, and specific kinds of software engineers are notoriously misclassified as exempt from the FLSA protections.
It’s not your job to accurately account for your work– it’s your employers.
There are three common overtime misconceptions for this line of work, which we’ll discuss below. If your job is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are entitled to overtime pay at one-and-a-half times your regular rate of pay.
1. Having a salary doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exempt
Many people think that if you are a salaried worker, you do not get overtime pay. Many of those who work in the IT and computer technician fields are told they do not qualify for overtime because they are salaried. This is incorrect information.
When it comes to FLSA, what you do in your job matters more than how you’re paid.
2. Your job title doesn’t matter
A job title is pretty meaningless when it comes to the FLSA. There is an exemption for “learned professionals” under federal law, but most computer technicians do not qualify for this.
In order to be considered a learned professional, you need to make at least $455 per week on a salary. After this, the exemption comes in whether or not your work performance requires an advanced knowledge in your field. This work needs to be “predominantly intellectual”– meaning you have to exercise real independent judgment; understand problems; create innovative solutions, in order to be considered a learned professional.
For those in the computer field, the advanced degree is not required to be considered an exempt professional.
If you follow a manual or perform routine work, more than likely you’re entitled to overtime wages. Below is an example of tasks that computer employees perform, which entitles them to overtime pay:
- Configuring computers and applications
- Troubleshooting hardware, software and network problems
- Installing hardware and software
- Upgrading hardware and software
- Installing and upgrading telecom systems
Those who repair or manufacture computer hardware are typically entitled to overtime pay as well.
3. The exemption is narrow for computer employees
The Department of Labor has seen an increase in computer industry jobs in recent years. Due to this, the FLSA now has an explicit overtime exemption for those categorized as “computer employees.”
If you fall under this exemption, you will need to meet one of the following:
- Make a salary of at least $455 per week, or an hourly wage of no less than $27.63 per week
- You perform computer systems analyst duties, program computers, are a software engineer, or “other similarly skilled worker in the computer field”
This reiterates that duties are more important than your title. You may be exempt (and not entitled to overtime wages) if your primary duties involve:
- “the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;
- the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
- the design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
a combination of [those] duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.”
These requirements are very specific and were adopted mainly because highly-skilled computer workers may never have gone to college. In other industries, a person is considered a learned professional partially because it involves acquiring an advanced degree in that specific field of employment.
Questions About an Overtime Lawsuit? Contact a Johnson//Becker Lawyer for a Free Case Review.
If you feel that your employer is violating their requirement to pay you what you deserve, you should contact us for a free, no obligation case evaluation. We are actively filing new overtime lawsuits across the country and you may be entitled to financial compensation for your unpaid overtime wages.
We offer a Free Case Evaluation. Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386.
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