I am an Office Manager and am paid by salary. The law states that those paid this way must supervise at least 3 people & have the ability to hire & fire. The other Office Manager in this area and I both supervise people but would never be allowed to hire or fire and have only attended one managers meeting in two years.. One of the people I supervise was told by the General Manager that I could not fire her which she proceeded to throw in my face when I tried to discipline her. The company does not pay all office manager in this way, but are considering it. I feel that they are doing this just to avoid paying overtime. They currently have a class action lawsuit against them for their payment practices in another area of the country.
You should set an appointment with an employment attorney to discuss your case further. This is probably the one area that is most overlooked by employers. In fact, most employers probably don't know the exempt/non-exempt rules.
The above statements are provided as general information and not intended as legal advice. Each matter has its own set of unique circumstances that cannot be adequately addressed without consultation. You are strongly advised to hire an attorney licensed to practice law in your state to represent you.
Administrative Law Lawyer
Your first step should be to contact the attorneys that are already suing your company for related practices. These attorneys may be able to expand the existing suit to include your claims, or they may know of attorneys who are already schooled on your company's personnel practices. If so, these are the attorneys who would offer you a significant advantage in moving on any claims.
Be careful about suing your employer. The law "protects" you against retaliation, of course, but it does not prevent improper employer action. It only offers potential redress.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
That's not quite right. You don't need to have the ability to hire and fire. Instead, it can be sufficient that your input on personnel decisions be given "particular weight."
Your type of claim is called a misclassification case -- the issue is whether the company has misclassified you as exempt. This is a common issue. You need to work through this with an employment lawyer.