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Exempt Employees vs. Non-Exempt Employees


Typically, there are two types of employees in the workplace: exempt and non-exempt. You’ve probably noticed the two terms come up when you’ve filled out an application or looked through job listings—but do you know the difference between the two?

Exempt Employees

Exempt employees, such as truck drivers and agricultural workers, are excluded from overtime, meal and rest break rules, minimum wage and other rights and protections that are typically afforded to non-exempt employees through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Generally, jobs that are governed by other federal labor laws (such as the Motor Carriers Act for truck drivers) are exempt from the FLSA rules.

The FLSA recognizes five main categories of exempt employees:

  • Executive
  • Professional
  • Administrative
  • Computer Professional
  • Outside Sales

These categories are purposely broad in order to encompass many different positions. With few exceptions, exempt employees must be paid at least $23,600 a year ($465 a week) on a salary basis and must perform exempt job duties only. It is at the employer’s discretion whether or not to pay for overtime hours worked. Instead, they may just offer a better benefits package. Typically, exempt employees make more money than non-exempt employees, because they are expected to complete their tasks regardless of how much time it takes.

Non-Exempt Employees

Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay, earning time and one-half of their regular rate of pay after 40 hours in a given week. Most non-exempt employees must be paid the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25) for regular time.

Non-exempt employees generally have their time more closely monitored than exempt employees, because they’re expected to complete their tasks within a prescribed number of hours. In states like California and New York, non-exempt employees must comply with meal and rest period laws. Designated breaks may come only at certain times of the day.

Your Houston Employment Lawyers

Our Houston employment attorneys at Shellist Lazarz Slobin provide legal representation to both employees and employers for overtime pay suits, employee handbooks, administrative filings and lawsuits and more. Contact our attorneys—Martin Shellist, Mark Lazarz, Todd Slobin, Sidd Rao, Ricardo Prieto, and Dorian Vandenberg-Rodes—to schedule a consultation on your labor or employment matter.

Call us at (713) 352-3433 or contact us online to talk to a lawyer!
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