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Tennessee Overtime Laws

Working overtime can be a real burden. It takes time away from your life and personal responsibilities. One of the main benefits of working more than 40 hours a week is overtime pay; as most employees are entitled to 1.5 times their normal rate for those extra hours. That means if you typically earn $12.50 an hour, your overtime wage is $18.75.

Overtime laws are subject to exceptions and exemptions that make some employees not qualify for overtime pay. Understanding how these laws apply can add up to thousands of dollars more in pay each year. If you work in Tennessee, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with Tennessee overtime laws.

Tennessee Overtime Law Summary

This chart highlights key provisions of Tennessee overtime laws.

State and Federal Statutes

Tennessee Overtime Rules

  • Under FLSA, overtime pay rate is 1.5 times the employees regular rate
  • Overtime is calculated based on the number of hours worked on a weekly basis (not daily)
  • No laws limit the number of hours an employee can work in a week.
  • Federal law provides 2 years to make a claim for unpaid overtime, 3 years if employer intentionally violated the law.

Overtime Calculation Methods:

  • Hourly: Pay time and a half over 40 hours work/week.
  • Hourly Plus Bonus and/or Commission: Regular rate = Total hours times hourly rate, plus the workweek equivalent of the bonus and/or commission, divided by the total hours in the workweek; then pay half of that regular rate for each overtime hour.
  • Salary: Regular rate = Salary divided by the number of hours the salary is intended to compensate.
  • If the regular hours are less than 40: Add regular rate for each hour up to 40, then pay time and a half for hours over 40.
  • If the regular hours = 40: Pay time and a half for hours over 40.

Filing a Wage Complaint

Note: State laws are subject to change. It's important to verify the information you read about by conducting your own research or consulting with a Tennessee attorney.

Tennessee Overtime Laws

Although Tennessee law does not mention overtime pay, federal law provides this right to all "non-exempt" employees working in Tennessee. The federal overtime law is found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to this law, employees must receive overtime pay of at least 1.5 times their regular rate of pay when working more than 40 hours in a workweek. A workweek does not need to be Sunday through Saturday; it can be any prearranged grouping of seven continuous days. Note that there are no overtime requirements for working more than eight hours in a day, or on weekends or holidays.

Who is Exempt from Federal Overtime Laws?

Federal law does not entitle every employee to overtime pay. Employees not covered by FLSA are typically known as "exempt" employees. For an employee to be considered exempt, they must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis a wage not less than $455 per week (as of 2017). Job titles do not determine exempt status; instead, the law focuses on an employee's specific job duties. For example, an exempt professional employee includes lawyers, physicians, teachers, architects, registered nurses and other employees performing work requiring advanced education or training.

This exemption does not include skilled trades, mechanical arts, or other work that does not require a college or postgraduate degree. The following types of employees are frequently exempt from federal overtime rules:

  • Executive
  • Administrator
  • Outside salespeople
  • Inside salespeople that are primarily commission based
  • Those employed as "learned professionals" (CPA, lawyer, executive chef)

Overtime Rate for Tipped and Commissioned Employees

If you're paid by the hour, figuring out your regular rate of pay for calculating overtime is easy. It's your hourly wage multiplied by 1.5. Where things get confusing is when you receive tips, commission or other incentives as part of your pay.

Many tipped employees are paid less than the minimum wage when their employer takes a "tip credit." However, a tipped employee's overtime rate is based on the full minimum wage with no tip credit subtracted. For example, an employer may pay a tipped employee a cash wage of $2.13 per hour, but an overtime rate is that is based on the full minimum wage of $7.25 (2017 rate). Similarly, if an employee's regular rate of pay includes commissions and bonuses, these must be included when calculating the regular rate of pay.

Mandatory Overtime Issues

Your employer is in control when it comes to setting your schedule. There are no state or federal laws that set a maximum number of hours an employee can be required to work in a day or a week. However, some fields, such as transportation and trucking, may be subject to separate regulations that place these limits. This means your boss can require you to work overtime or fire you if you refuse.

Denied Overtime Pay? Talk to a Tennessee Employment Lawyer Today

Overtime laws are complicated and even the best boss can get them wrong sometimes. But if your boss denies your right to overtime pay, there is help available to resolve your claim. Both the Tennessee Department of Labor and the federal government have simplified wage complaint forms (see chart above). A Tennessee employment law attorney can help enforce your rights to any lost wages and available damage.

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