Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dr. Robert Maughon, doing business as First Med Family Clinic, has paid $22,240 in back wages to 14 clinic employees following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions. The investigation included five medical offices in Gatlinburg, Morristown, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division personnel found the employer improperly classified salaried employees, such as lab technicians, receptionists and medical billing personnel as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. As a result, they were denied required overtime compensation when they received only their fixed salaries without premium pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The employer also paid hourly employees “straight-time” for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek instead of time and one-half the employees’ regular rates, as required. Additionally, the employer failed to maintain records of hours worked, destroying time sheets after employees were paid.
“Employers are legally obligated to maintain accurate records and to pay employees for all hours worked, including proper overtime compensation when hours exceed 40 in a workweek,” said Sandra Sanders, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Nashville District Office. “This case should put other employers on notice. Simply putting employees on a salary does not eliminate the need to pay them overtime.”
In the future, the employer has agreed to comply with the FLSA, and the back wages owed have been paid.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour 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. Simply paying employees a salary does not exempt them from overtime protections. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees, as well as certain computer employees. To qualify for an exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at no less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exemption status. For an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department’s regulations.
The Labor Department has developed a smart phone application to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, users can track regular work hours, break time and any overtime hours for one or more employers. This new technology, available at http://www.dol.gov/dol/apps, is significant. Instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers now can keep their own records.
The division’s Nashville office can be reached at 615-781-5343. Information on the FLSA and other wage laws is available by calling the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) and at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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