"This company wrongly classified employees as exempt from overtime requirements to avoid paying them the wages they had earned," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. "The Labor Department is committed to protecting the rights of all employees. Other employers violating the FLSA in this manner should take note and ensure that those employees who earn overtime receive it."
An investigation by the division's Albuquerque District Office, based in New Mexico, found that the company incorrectly classified intake specialists, early intervention specialists and rehab providers, among others, as exempt from the FLSA's overtime compensation requirements for professional workers.
The facilities where violations were found include the Early Childhood Intervention Center, Mental Health Services/Adult Day Care and Turning Point Treatment Center, all in Odessa, facilities on East Illinois, North Carter and East Front in Midland, and those located in the cities of Alpine, Fort Stockton, Presidio and Van Horn.
Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. To qualify for the learned professional exemption, members of the medical profession – such as pharmacists, nurses, therapists and social workers – generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. For additional information on overtime exemptions, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/fairpay/fs17a_overview.htm.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, employers must maintain accurate time and payroll records.