How Do I Tell If I’m Exempt from Overtime Pay in Ohio?

Doug Mann

Both state and federal law requires Ohio employers to pay employees at a higher rate if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Any time in excess of 40 hours must be paid at 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly pay. For example, an employee whose regular pay rate is $20/hour who worked 45 hours in a week would be paid $20 for each of the first 40 hours and then $30 ($20 x 1.5) for each of the five additional hours. 

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Table of Contents
  1. Who is Entitled to Overtime Pay in Ohio? 
  2. Which Businesses are Covered by the FLSA? 
  3. Job Classification Exemptions to Overtime Requirements
  4. What if I’ve Been Cheated out of Overtime Pay? 

Some states have additional overtime requirements. For example, a few states require “time and a half” pay for any work beyond eight hours in a single day, even if they don’t exceed 40 hours in a week. And, at least two require double-time pay under certain limited circumstances. But, Ohio law mirrors federal law in basing overtime pay on the number of hours in a workweek and requiring 1.5 times regular pay for each of those excess hours. 

Who is Entitled to Overtime Pay in Ohio? 

Not every Ohio worker is protected by state and federal overtime pay requirements. Both statutes create categories of “exempt” employees–employees who are not entitled to overtime pay. Some employers play fast and loose with these categories, treating employees as exempt when they don’t actually fit the legal definition and should be entitled to overtime pay.

See Also: Is it Legal to Be Fired By Text in Ohio?

Others simply don’t fully understand the requirements, and may be cheating the employee of overtime pay through a legitimate mistake. 

To ensure that you’re receiving all compensation you’re entitled to, it’s in your best interest to know the criteria that determine whether or not your role is exempt. That starts with knowing whether the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires your employer to pay overtime.

Which Businesses are Covered by the FLSA? 

The Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime pay requirements apply to most businesses in the United States, but there are a few exceptions. For example, small farms typically don’t have to pay overtime to agricultural workers. Certain amusement and recreational positions are also exempt, along with airline employees, taxi drivers, railroad employees, newspaper deliverers, and others. Employers bringing in less than $150,000 in gross revenues each year are also excluded. 

These exceptions are clearly listed in the law, and so it’s a straightforward matter to determine whether or not your employer is excused from paying overtime rates. In some states, state law requires overtime pay in situations where federal law does not. But, Ohio law generally matches federal law in exemptions as well as in calculation of overtime pay.

Recap: Which businesses aren’t covered by the FLSA?

  • Agricultural workers
  • Certain amusement and recreational positions
  • Airline employees
  • Taxi drivers
  • Railroad employees
  • Newspaper deliverers
  • Employers bringing in less than $150,000 in gross revenue

Job Classification Exemptions to Overtime Requirements

In addition to exempting certain industries or roles from overtime pay requirements, both the FLSA and Ohio law create exemptions for certain types of employees, regardless of their industry. This is where most confusion arises and employees are most likely to find themselves wrongly classified as exempt from overtime pay.

Here are some common examples: 

Commissioned Salespeople

Employers generally aren’t required to pay overtime rates to commissioned sales staff if certain conditions are met. These include 1) that the company is a retail sales or service establishment, 2) that the salesperson is earning at least 1.5 times the applicable minimum wage for each hour worked, and 3) that more than 50% of the salesperson’s pay is in the form of commissions. 

An expert tip from Doug Mann

Some companies that employ sales staff automatically classify them as exempt, without conducting the required calculations to determine whether the employee is exceeding 1.5 times the minimum wage during weeks including overtime or whether the employee is consistently earning more than 50% of their pay from commissions. So, some sales representatives who work partly on commission may be losing out on overtime pay they should be receiving. 

Executives

Executive / managerial employees who are paid on a salaried basis at a rate of at least $684/week ($35,568/year) are considered exempt from the overtime pay requirement. These employees are also exempt from federal minimum wage law. 

However, it’s important to note that the exemption applies to “bona fide” executives. In some industries, such as fast food and convenience stores, there’s a history of some employers classifying someone as a manager and paying them on salary though managerial functions may make up a small portion of their work duties. But, that’s not sufficient. 

The exemption applies only when the employee’s primary responsibilities are managerial, they manage at least two full-time employees (or equivalent) and play a significant role in hiring and firing decisions. So, for example, the assistant manager in a retail location who spends most of each shift running a cash register likely won’t qualify and should be receiving overtime pay. 

Administrative

The administrative exemption is similar to the executive exemption, with the same requirements regarding salary and minimum weekly pay. And, like the executive exemption, the administrative exemption applies only to administrative employees who meet certain requirements. For example, an employee titled “administrative assistant” who spends most of their work time taking messages and typing dictation generally won’t be exempt. 

Rather, the exempt administrative employee must have the freedom to exercise independent decision-making about significant matters, and the administrative work must be related to management or business operations of the organization.

There are additional exemption categories, such as professionals, computer employees, and outside sales representatives. Each has its own specific criteria, which aren’t always fully understood or properly applied by employers. If you’re not receiving overtime pay and are unsure about whether your employer has properly classified you as exempt, an experienced Ohio wage and hour attorney can help assess whether you are entitled to overtime pay. 

Highly Compensated Employees

Highly compensated employees are a separate classification, and this designation may apply to people holding many different types of non-manual jobs, including those listed above. To be exempt as a highly compensated employee, one must earn at least $107,432/year in total compensation. 

The compensation must consist of at least $684/week in salary, and may also include monetary compensation such as commissions and non-discretionary bonuses. Benefits such as medical insurance and retirement account matching contributions cannot be counted toward total compensation. 

The employee must also regularly perform at least one of the listed duties for the administrative, executive, or professional exemption. However, for the highly compensated employee, there is no requirement that the listed duties be the employee’s primary function. 

What if I’ve Been Cheated out of Overtime Pay? 

If you have been misclassified as exempt, you may be entitled to collect the overtime pay that was improperly withheld. You may even be able to recover twice the amount that your employer should have paid you in overtime.

You may be surprised to discover how relatively small amounts of unpaid overtime can add up. 

For example, imagine that the $20/hour employee working 45 hours/week described in the first paragraph was paid at their regular rate for all hours worked across two years. The loss of the extra $10/hour for five hours each week adds up to $50/week, $215/month, and $2,600/year.

That’s a loss of $5,200 across two years, and could mean an award of $10,400 if the employee is entitled to double damages.

The longer you’ve worked without receiving appropriate overtime pay and the more hours of overtime you’ve worked, the more compensation you may be entitled to.

Your best next step is to talk to an experienced Ohio wage and hour attorney right away. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 937-222-2222 or clicking in the lower right corner of this page to chat.

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