Are Radiology Technologists Owed Overtime?
X-Ray Technicians, also known as radiology technicians, or RT’s, may be paid on an hourly, salary or per diem basis. Regardless of how they are paid, the question is often asked whether they are entitled to overtime pay. Hospitals and physician practice groups sometimes deny RT’s overtime pay by claiming that they are exempt under the professional overtime exemption. However, according to federal caselaw and an opinion letter from the Department of Labor, RT’s generally do not qualify for the professional exemption, and thus are entitled to overtime pay. To qualify under the professional 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 work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment;
- The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and
- The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
Both federal courts and the Department of Labor have rejected the notion that RT’s qualify for the professional exemption. In Brennan v. South Davis Community Hospital, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a radiology technician’s work did “not appear to be work predominantly intellectual and varied as required by [the professional exemption], and thus affirmed the trial court’s refusal to apply this exemption. 538 F.2d 859 (10th Cir. 1976). Likewise, in an opinion letter, the Department of Labor stated that X-Ray Technicians are not exempt from overtime under the professional exemption, reasoning as follows:
We do not believe that the RT position meets the primary duty requirements of [the professional exemption]. First, the RT’s primary duty does not appear to require “knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.” “The phrase ‘customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction’ restricts the exemption to professions where specialized academic training is a standard prerequisite for entrance into the profession. The best prima facie evidence that an employee meets this requirement is possession of the appropriate academic degree.” As the preamble to the Department’s 2004 revisions to the Part 541 final rule explained, jobs that “require only a four-year college degree in any field or a two-year degree as a standard prerequisite for entrance into the field . . . do not qualify for the learned professional exemption.” The requirement that an RT complete a two- to three-year radiology technology program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (or some other manner of accreditation acceptable to the ARRT), along with an ARRT examination for registration, does not appear to meet this regulatory standard….
The existence of a mandatory, accredited certification program, as is the case for the RTs, does not override the regulatory requirement for a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction for entry into the field….
Second, the RTs’ work…seems to be more in the character of routine mental, manual, mechanical and physical processes than intellectual work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment. The “learned professional” activity in this area appears to be the practice of medicine involved in the analysis and interpretation of the images developed by the radiologist.
For these reasons, it is our opinion that these employees do not qualify for the “learned professional” exemption, and they must be paid in accordance with the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. See DOL Opinion Letter, available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/opinion/FLSA/2007/2007_02_01_05_FLSA.htm.
Thus, numerous sources of authority have concluded that most X-Ray Technologists cannot be denied overtime pay based on the professional exemption. If you are a Radiology Technologist and have questions about overtime pay, consult an experienced overtime attorney to learn 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.