Are Inspectors Owed Overtime Pay?
Many inspectors of all types (pipeline inspectors, health and safety inspectors, quality control inspectors, field inspectors, environmental inspectors, construction inspectors, etc.) are paid a salary or day rates and are denied overtime pay. However, most inspectors are required by federal law to be paid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. Employers often claim that inspectors meet the “administrative” overtime exemption under the FLSA. To meet this exemption, all of the following tests must be met:
- The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week;
- The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
- The employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.
As the Department of Labor and federal courts have recognized, most inspectors do not meet this exemption. One of the DOL’s regulations specifically states that inspectors are normally not exempt from overtime: “Ordinary inspection work generally does not meet the duties requirements for the administrative exemption. Inspectors normally perform specialized work along standardized lines involving well-established techniques and procedures which may have been catalogued and described in manuals or other sources. Such inspectors rely on techniques and skills acquired by special training or experience. They have some leeway in the performance of their work but only within closely prescribed limits.” This is not to say that all inspectors have to be paid overtime – some will qualify for the administrative exemption, and some courts have found inspectors to be exempt, depending on their job duties. The key question with any inspector on an unpaid overtime issue will be how much discretion the inspector had in performing his or her duties. Recently, a federal court found that two plaintiffs, who were employed as “QC Field Inspectors,” and whose primary duty was to inspect construction work to ensure that it was completed in accordance with engineering drawings and protocols, were entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. Blotzer v. L-3 Communications Corp., No. CV-11-274-TUC-JGZ, 2012 WL 6086931, (D. Ariz. Dec. 5, 2012). This case is illustrative that many inspectors who are paid on a salary or day rate basis are being misclassified as exempt from overtime pay.
As this article makes clear, there is no black and white answer as to whether inspectors are due overtime pay. However, inspectors who regularly work more than 40 hours per week should ask whether they are entitled to overtime pay. If you are an inspector who is denied overtime pay, consult with an experienced overtime attorney to determine your legal rights.
About the author: Josh Borsellino is a Texas attorney who represents workers to get them the overtime pay they deserve. For a free consultation, call 817.908.9861 or 432.242.7118 or complete this online contact form.