Federal and state government employees work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of North Carolina residents. Even though long hours are often an expected part of government service, if you are a non-exempt employee who works over 40 hours a week, you can and should receive payment for those hours.

If your employer is withholding your overtime pay, you can file a claim for damages. Read more about the overtime rule on salary for exempt government employees in North Carolina to determine if you might be eligible for overtime pay.

If you believe you are entitled to overtime pay, contact Gibbons Leis, PLLC for help.

Who does the FLSA cover?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that protects a large number of employees by regulating minimum wage, overtime pay, and other employment-related matters. The FLSA employs two different types of coverages:

  • Enterprise coverage
  • Individual coverage

Employees who work at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, preschools, and government agencies; or business that make over $500,000 receive enterprise coverage. Individuals can also receive coverage if they regularly engage in interstate commerce.  

Who is exempt from overtime pay?

The FLSA specifies which employees are exempt from FLSA requirements. Exempt employees are not entitled to receive overtime pay.

Generally, to qualify as exempt, employees must:

  • Be salaried.
  • Earn a minimum of $455 per week.
  • Perform the job duties specified by the FLSA exemption that fits them.

Are government employees entitled to overtime?

The FLSA refers to state and local government employers as “public agencies.”

Section 3(s)(1) of the FLSA covers most employees who work for public agencies; under this section, employees of public agencies who work over 40 hours in a standard workweek are entitled to overtime pay. The overtime pay they receive will be equal to one and one-half times their standard weekly rate of pay.

Note: If you work for a private company that engages in activities typically performed by public employees, you are not entitled to overtime pay.

Are there any regulations or exemptions that apply to government employees?

Generally, government and private sector employees are subject to the same overtime exemptions.  The FLSA does contain some additional provisions that specifically relate to government employees. Some of these provisions address overtime pay.

Compensatory Time

Instead of receiving cash payment for overtime hours, government employers may award their employees with comp time. Employers must establish this via an agreement between the agency and employee representatives or between the employer and employee before work begins. Comp time received must be at the rate of one-and-one -half hours for each overtime hour worked by the employee.

Most government employees may earn up to 240 hours of comp time. However, employees in the following fields of work may earn up to 480 hours:

  • Law enforcement
  • Fire protection
  • Emergency response personnel
  • Seasonal workers (e.g., tax return processors)

Fire and Law Enforcement FLSA Regulations

There are a couple of unique regulations that only apply to fire protection employees (e.g., firefightersparamedics, EMTs, rescue workers) and law enforcement personnel (i.e., employees who help maintain peace and order and have undergone law enforcement training).

Work Periods

Any non-exempt employee in fire protection or law enforcement will be paid overtime based on work periods as opposed to workweeks. A work period may equal anywhere from seven to 28 consecutive days in length. The department’s regulations will provide a formula to determine the maximum hours an employee can work in the work period before they can receive overtime.

Small Agency Exemption

Any fire or police employee who works for an agency with fewer than five fire or police employees is exempt under the FLSA.

Making sense of the complex exemptions and FLSA requirements relating to government employees can be difficult. The staff at Gibbons Leis, PLLC have a thorough understanding of overtime pay laws and can help with your case.

How can I recover compensation if I believe my employer violated my rights?

Employers may make several mistakes when it comes to a government employee’s overtime pay. Filing a lawsuit against your employer can hold it accountable for these mistakes. Two of the most common errors include:

Misclassifying a Non-Exempt Employee as Exempt

Most government employees are non-exempt. Employers who classify a governmental employee as exempt have violated that employee’s rights and may be liable for damages. Non-exempt employees misclassified as exempt are entitled to back pay for the overtime their employer previously failed to pay. Our attorneys will determine your exemption status, and if you were misclassified, we will collect evidence to establish your true status in court.

Overtime Miscalculations

Whether intentional or accidental, many employers make mistakes when calculating how much overtime they owe their employees. Calculating overtime for governmental employees can be particularly complicated, so mistakes are common.

Our attorneys will help identify these mistakes and put together the proof required to prove your case in court. Most employees will recover liquidated damages in double the amount of back pay owed. The only way an employer can avoid paying liquidated damages is by proving that it acted in good faith when it miscalculated your overtime.

Related: Welcome to the Charlotte, North Carolina Office of Gibbons Leis, PLLC

Phil Gibbons, Charlotte, NC employee rights lawyer, can help local, state & federal government employees recover unpaid overtime.

Government employees work tirelessly to ensure that our country runs smoothly. As such, they should receive fair compensation for the overtime hours they put in. If your employer has not paid you for the overtime you worked, you may file a lawsuit to recover damages. Our attorneys can help you with every step of the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for the hours you worked.