One of the more misunderstood laws is that through which employers are exempt from paying overtime wages to computer/IT professionals – and, therefore, it is often most abused by some employers.
For example, some employers give sophisticated job titles to their computer professionals and make them salaried employees to escape having to pay overtime wages. In that scenario, computer employees can be deprived of hundreds of hours worth of overtime pay for time spent working beyond regular schedule shift hours.
A computer professional who diagnoses, troubleshoots and attempts to solve customers’ software or internet connectivity problems is not an exempt computer professional under the law. Because an employee who performs these services is essentially a technically proficient help desk employee, whose primary responsibility is nothing more than customer service, he is entitled by law to receive overtime pay when working more than 40 hours in a workweek.
What’s more, a court ruled in Hunter v. Sprint Corp 453 F.Supp.2d 44 (D. D.C. 2006) that such employee’s job duties do not include “determining hardware, software or system functional specifications” or “design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs.”
Similar positions where the primary responsibility is either training customers in specialized computer software or providing support to customers and designing computer solutions to fit a client’s needs are not covered by the exemption and employees in such positions are entitled to overtime pay. According to the Department of Labor, these employees are not designing, creating, testing, or modifying the actual system or program.
Click here to read the Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet on this issue.
Computer employees have to bear in mind that their title and level of education will not necessarily determine their entitlement to overtime; but their primary job functions will. Generally, courts will look at how much discretion and independent judgment is afforded by an employee in determining whether his/her job is exempt. Help desk IT employees generally will not be exempt and will therefore be entitled to overtime.
If you have any questions or seek information about determining whether or not you are an exempt employee under the law, contact Lebau & Neuworth at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.