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Can an employer give us a salary but require us to work 40 hours a week?

San Diego, CA |

We work as nurses for a pharmaceutical research company. They require us to come in usually 7 days a week and work more than 60 hours a week. Sometimes 10-20 days straight with no days off. Is this legal if we agreed to salary?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. This is probably illegal. The only way they can not pay overtime to a salaried employee is if you qualify for a specific exemption. Nurses typically are not exempt from overtime, and therefore are owed overtime. An employment attorney can give a more thorough analysis based on the facts in your case. It sounds like you may have a strong case for unpaid overtime. I would be happy to discuss this matter further with you if you have questions.

  2. It is likely NOT legal. Generally, nurses are non-exempt employees, which means they must be paid overtime compensation for working more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Just because your employer pays you a salary does not make you exempt, even if you agreed to the salary.

    You should consult with an experienced California employment lawyer regarding your situation and determine your options going forward.

    Good luck.

  3. An employee who is properly classified as an exempt employee is not required to be paid overtime and an employer can require them to work the schedule you describe. While some nurses are non-exempt, some may be considered exempt depending on the type of nurse. For example, a nurse practitioner may qualify for an exemption because of the additional educational requirements and skill involved while an LVN may not be exempt. You should consult with an employment attorney about your specific duties to determine if you are properly classified as an exempt salaried employee.

  4. Certain types of advanced practice nurses may be properly classified as "exempt," thus enabling their employer to pay a flat salary regardless of the quantity of hours worked. However, most nurses are entitled to overtime. More information is needed to determine your rights and so you'd be well served to consult with a local attorney immediately. Good luck.

    This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.

  5. I agree with my colleagues here who are of the opinion that your situation sounds suspect. There seems to be a misclassification, and you should strongly consider scheduling an appointment with an employment lawyer. Most attorneys who practice in this area will give you a free consultation, and would accept your case on contingency basis. Good luck.

  6. If you are non-exempt, and that questions is highly fact sensitive and depends on your job duties, then it is very likely not legal. What's more under the Labor Code your salary is for only 40 hours a week and you are owed your hourly wage for overtime at the overtime rate. You and your friends maybe owed a great deal of money and should seek out experienced wage and hour counsel.

    This site is informational only and creates no attorney client relationship or a reasonable expecation of accuracy as any comments here are based on less than all of the facts. No comments here form any client relationship or create a reasonable expectation that you can rely on the comments. Only a formal retainer agreement can form an attorney client relatiopnship.

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