The title of executive chef has a nice ring to it for many people who have worked themselves up the restaurant industry ladder. In a recent case handled by Braverman Law PC, however, an employer used this title to deny a kitchen staff member overtime wages.
Our firm represents employees whose employers deny them the wages they deserve under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York wage laws. If you have questions about your specific situation, please do not hesitate to call our office today.
Misusing the “Executive” Overtime Exemption
Federal and state laws require employers to pay certain employees 1.5 times their usual hourly wages for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week. Overtime pay means a lot to employees who work long hours for their employers. Some employees are exempt, however. The most common exemptions, like the “executive” exemption, contain both (i) a minimum salary test and (ii) a duties test.
It's a mistake to believe that if you receive a salary, you are therefore not entitled to overtime. In order for the exemption to be lawful, the job duties must fit the description for the exemption—for example, the following requirements for the executive exemption:
- The employee's primary duties must involve managing a department or the entire enterprise
- He or she must regularly direct and oversee the work of a minimum of two full-time employees
- He or she must have authority to hire and fire other employees or at least give valued recommendations regarding the hiring, promotion, or firing of other employees
Therefore, calling someone an executive, and thereby denying him overtime under the executive exemption, is illegal unless the employee actually has the required authority and management duties.
A well-known New York pizza restaurant titled our client an “executive chef”—but his job duties hardly qualified as an executive under the FLSA. Instead of supervising employees and making management decisions, the restaurant instead mostly tasked our client with performing the non-exempt duties of other kitchen staff who were fired but not timely replaced, and our client had little actual authority when performing supposed supervisory tasks. For example, he had little actual say over who was hired and fired, he never planned weekly menus, etc. The result? Our firm obtained a favorable settlement for our client to compensate him for the overtime payments his employer unlawfully denied him.
Contact Our New York City Wage and Hour Law Firm for More Information About Your Rights
Braverman Law PC stands up for the rights of employees whose employers misclassified them as exempt from overtime. If you would like to discuss a possible case, please call (212) 206-8166 to learn more about how we can assist you.