Employees should only be denied overtime if they are a salaried employee making more than $455 per week and they meet the following three tests of the professional exemption:
- The employee performs work that requires advanced knowledge
- The advanced knowledge must be in the area of science or learning
- The advanced knowledge must be customarily learned through a prolonged course of specialized study
“Work requiring advanced knowledge” means that the job is intellectual in nature and includes work requiring the constant exercise of judgment and discretion, as distinguished from routine mental, manual, physical or mechanical work. Advanced knowledge cannot be learned at a high school level.
“Science and learning” fields refer to areas of medicine, law, accounting, engineering, teaching, pharmacy, architecture, theology and physical, biological or chemical sciences. Generally, workers who have an appropriate academic degree meet the “prolonged course of study” test. However, workers who gained the same amount of knowledge through study and experience may also meet this requirement.
Some workers who generally fall under the professional exemption include registered nurses, physician assistants, accountants, chefs, athletic trainers, funeral directors, dental hygienists, and certified or registered medical technologists. Those who generally do not meet this exemption include paralegals and legal assistants.