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Understanding federal mandatory overtime laws

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2022 | Employment Law

Many employees in North Carolina, including numerous immigrants, are wage earners who get paid an hourly wage. Many of these individuals are required to work extensive overtime hours merely to retain their jobs. Federal law provides a significant benefit to such workers that many do not know about. The mandatory overtime requirements spelled out in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibit employers from requiring overtime work without paying the mandatory compensation as required by the statute. All employees should have a basic understanding of the mandatory federal overtime requirements.

The basics

The mandatory overtime provisions were first embodied in the FLSA when it was passed as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. While the requirements have been amended on several occasions, they remain essentially unchanged. If a worker is required to work overtime in excess of his or her regular workweek, the employee must be paid 150 % of their regular wage for all hours in excess of 168 per week. The overtime pay earned in a particular week must be paid on the payday that is used for ordinary wages earned during the week.


The Department of Labor regulations state that exempt employees are not subject to the mandatory overtime rules. Exempt employees include employee who work in “outside sales” (such as a car salesman), teachers, and lawyers and physicians. Management employees are also exempt, and employers often intentionally misclassify employees as executive or management employees in order to avoid paying mandatory overtime. If employees are misclassified, they can sue their employer to recover any improper deductions from their paychecks; if they prevail, they can also recover their attorneys fees.

Anyone who feels they have been denied mandatory overtime pay, they may wish to consult an experienced employment attorney for an evaluation of their situation and an opinion on the likelihood of prevailing in a lawsuit for wrongfully withheld overtime.