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Is there a law that states how an employer should compensate an salary employee for working overtime?
First, I do not practice law in Virginia, so I cannot give you legal advice. But, I can tell you what I know about federal law. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that an employer pay a "non-exempt" employee an overtime premium (time and a-half) for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours. Non-exempt employees perform non-exempt duties and are generally compensated hourly.
To be exempt from the overtime requirement, and employee must meet certain criteria. And although it is much too detailed to list all criteria, the primary exemptions apply to employees who are executives/managers and manage other employees and perform management functions. There is an administrative exemption. There is a professionals exemption. Also, there is a computer professional. There is an outside sales exemption. So, if an employee is paid a salary which is not dependent on the number of hours worked and primarily performs exempt job duties, then the employee is not entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA.
If the salary employee is not exempt, then figure up the average hourly wage (generally salary divided by normal hours worked). The non-exempt salary employee would be entitled to 1.5 times this rate for time worked in excess of 40 hours.
South Carolina does not have a state overtime law. I am not sure about Virginia. So, there may be additional requirements under state law. But for most employees in most states, the FLSA is the law that provides for overtime.See question
My wife was told in the middle of her shift today that she had to work until the job was done...even if it took 36 to 48 hours before she could go home.
There is no limit to the number of hours that an employee can be required to work (unless the employee works in the transportation industry.) Of course, if the employee works in excess of 40 hours in any week, the employee is entitled to overtime (1.5 x regularly hourly rate).See question