Q: Can an employer legally assign non-exempt duties to an exempt supervisor to avoid paying a non-exempt employee overtime?
I'm a supervisor in Maryland, and already overwhelmed with 60-80 hours of work/wk. Can my employer keep loading on responsibilities without any limits? And if I say that's not my job or I'm already overwhelmed with work, they can terminate me? Basically, I worked my way up and proved to be reliable and competent, so they ask me to work on weekends performing the responsibilities of my non-exempt staff. They know I'm capable because I used to have that job. Shouldn't they have to hire me for both jobs, instead of being able to claim it's part of my current role? Or is this legal (federally or in Maryland) for my employer to circumvent overtime laws by making exempt employees perform responsibilities normally assigned to non-exempt staff?
A: There are limits to how much an employer can get away with. One question is if the employee is appropriately classified as exempt, given their overall duties and responsibilities. Another is if the employee is actually performing two separate jobs (one exempt, and the other non-exempt), and should therefore get overtime pay for the non-exempt job. Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule that governs either question- they're both very fact specific and involve weighing different factors.
Retaliation (e.g. termination) for raising good faith questions of compliance with labor laws- such as entitlement to overtime pay- is prohibited. But there are practical considerations involved (beyond the purely legal ones). It is probably a good idea to discuss with an employment/labor attorney.
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