Executives Grabbing a Mop: Salary Exempt Employees Performing Non- Exempt Work During the Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
Employers should be cautious as they call their salary-exempt employees back to work and ask them to perform non-exempt work during the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Generally, to qualify as salary exempt, an employee must both be paid a salary of at least $684 a week and must perform certain specific duties that satisfy one of the “white collar” exemptions to the wage and hour law’s overtime and minimum wage requirements. The most common exemptions are the executive, professional, and administrative exemptions.
Although a salary exempt employee can perform some non-exempt work and not lose exempt status, that employee must still perform “primarily” salary exempt work. Otherwise, the employee may lose the exemption. The Department of Labor regulations provide that salary exempt employees can perform non-exempt work during an “emergency” without losing the exemption, but the definition and time limit for an “emergency” is ambiguous. Employers should be careful as their salary exempt employees return to work and should limit the nonexempt work that these employees perform. Otherwise, the employer could be subject to fines, back pay, and other penalties from the Department of Labor.