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DOL Fact Sheet: Higher Education Institutions and Overtime Pay Under the FLSA


DOL Fact Sheet: Higher Education Institutions and Overtime Pay Under the FLSA

May 7, 2018

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued an informative “fact sheet” offering guidance on the hotly debated question of employee exemptions for minimum wage and overtime pay obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Fact Sheet 17S details common “white collar” exemptions at the federal level that apply to certain employees at higher education institutions. It breaks down the exemption analysis by common higher education job categories including:

  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Student-employees (e.g., graduate teaching assistants, research assistants, student residential assistants)
  • Professional employees (e.g., certified public accountants, psychologists, certified athletic trainers, and librarians)
  • Administrative employees (e.g., admissions counselors, student financial aid officers)
  • Executive employees (deans, department heads, directors)

It is important to remember that job titles alone are not sufficient for determining whether an employee is exempt. An employee’s qualification for an exemption depends on his or her actual job duties and education.

Fact Sheet 17S also provides guidance on compensatory time off (or “comp time”).  Public universities or colleges that qualify as “public agencies” may provide comp time in lieu of overtime pay, but private higher education institutions may not.

Misclassification of employees continues to be an increasingly litigated area of employment law, and violations that can result in severe financial penalties.  Employers should consider a workforce audit to ensure no employee is misclassified. In addition, employers may want to consider participating in the DOL Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) Program, which we explained in a recent alert.

To learn more about employee exemptions at higher education institutions, please contact: