Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
NEW YORK -- Following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. has agreed to pay 60 employees a total of $516,924 in overtime back wages found due under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The investigation found that Merrill Lynch had erroneously classified 60 senior specialists as exempt from coverage under the FLSA’s overtime provisions. The specialists worked in the Funds Set-Up Department at the company’s 2 World Financial Center headquarters. Many of these employees worked as many as 55 hours per week but were paid only a straight salary for all hours worked. The FLSA requires that employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage, and time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. The law also requires that employers maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment.
“The company had classified these employees as exempt under the law’s administrative exemption,” said Philip Jacobson, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s district office in New York City, “but our investigation determined that their duties did not qualify them for the exemption.”
“We hope this case serves as a reminder to other employers to make sure they are familiar with the requirements of the law and careful about compliance so that workers are always paid properly for all the hours they work,” Jacobson added.
The nearly $517,000 in back wages, which has been paid to the workers, represents the half-time they were not paid and covers the period from July 2006 through July 2008.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $6.55 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees. To qualify for exemption, employees generally must meet certain job duty and salary tests. Information about the current exemption can be found on the Internet at www.dol.gov/fairpay.
Information about the FLSA’s requirements may be obtained by calling the Department of Labor’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.wagehour.dol.gov. The Wage and Hour Division’s New York City District Office can be reached at 212-264-8185.
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