Am I exempt from overtime requirements?

I will be working for an Illinois seven attorney law firm as a law clerk this summer. I will be paid hourly, based on the number of hours I work each week, no set weekly or monthly salary. I was surprised when they told me that if I work more than 40 hours/week, these hours will not be compensated at ovetime rates, only at my regular hourly rate. As a law student, I read through the Illinois Minimum Wage and Employment Act, and I don't think that I am an exempt employee. As someone who I am sure is more familiar with the requirements of this, I would greatly appreciate an opinion on whether I am entitled to overtime compensation for these extra hours. Thank you greatly.

1 answer  |  asked Apr 25, 2001 12:33 PM [EST]  |  applies to Illinois

Answers (1)

David L. Lee
Hourly employees almost always get overtime

The rule (stupid though it may sound) is that employees are entitled to overtime unless they aren't. That means that for an employer to legally avoid paying an employee overtime, the employer must prove that the employee fits into an exemption.

There are various types of exemptions. Some are specific to certain industries (such as agricultural workers or automobile salesmen); others apply to every industry (such as executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales). There are no exemptions that are specific to the industry you're in, so, for you are exempt, you would have to fit into the second type of exemption.

One of the requirements for almost all of the exemptions that apply to every industry is that the employee is paid on a salary basis. (This is not always true. For example, certain highly paid computer professionals and -- ironically! -- lawyers don't have to be paid on a salary basis to be exempt from overtime as professionals.)

In your case, since you are a law clerk and not a lawyer, the fact that you are being paid hourly almost certainly means that you are entitled to overtime.

I hope this helps. Feel free to call me if I can be of any further assistance.

David Lee (Chicago)
312/347-4400

posted by David L. Lee  |  Apr 25, 2001 5:23 PM [EST]

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