New overtime law benefits some and confuses others

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Grocery Outlet clerk Millie Hansen punches the time clock Friday afternoon.

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Grocery Outlet clerk Millie Hansen punches the time clock Friday afternoon.

Millie Hansen's father taught her to work an honest day's work to get an honest day's wages. She calls this "old school."

Hansen, 61, makes about $10,000 a year working full-time as a cashier at Grocery Outlet on North Carson Street. She sometimes works from five to 10 hours a week in overtime.

The Carson City woman is one of 1.3 million Americans the Department of Labor says will benefit from new overtime laws that go into effect Monday. The new regulations guarantee overtime pay for those who make an annual salary less than $23,660 a year.

Under current law, employees were guaranteed overtime pay only if they make less than $155 a week, or $8,060 a year.

"This will guard anyone making $23,660 a year or less," U.S. Department of Labor spokeswoman Deanne Amaden said Friday. "It guarantees overtime coverage for those making that and less. Before that level it was $8,060 a year. In some places that's a big impact."

According to the department, this is the most significant and historic change. Lower income workers will be protected for the first time and 6.7 million other employees will have overtime rights strengthened.

This won't directly affect Hansen. Grocery Outlet has always paid her overtime. But Hansen said it does give her a sense of security for the future. Many locally owned or operated businesses make agreements to pay employees overtime for more than 40 hours worked a week whether or not it's guaranteed by the feds. Often employers don't even know this minutia of labor laws.

"I feel great about this," Hansen said Friday about the changes. "This should help everybody out. If they work it, they deserve it."

Hansen, a petite woman wearing thick glasses, a black Grocery Outlet apron and light blue shirt, said her salary covers her needs. Her husband is retired so they also get a pension and Social Security.

Hansen said she also has another form of security: Her boss treats her more like family than an employee.

Unions oppose new labor laws

Some may benefit, but the majority of white-collar workers will lose overtime protection, according to the AFL-CIO, which represents more than 13 million workers. The AFL-CIO, and many other labor unions, have built a united front against the new labor laws.

White-collar workers include professionals such as chefs, financial services employees, funeral directors and nursery-school teachers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Kelly Ross, AFL-CIO legislative representative, said Friday no one is opposed to raising the level of overtime security to $23,660, but the Department of Labor overestimates the number of people it'll help.

He cited a report by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, which says only 385,000 workers will benefit from the change.

Ross said all the other changes loosen the rules for those who qualify as a professional, executive or administrative employee.

"These rules have made it easier for people to be disqualified for overtime," Ross said. "There has been a fight in Congress for the last two years over this legislation."

He said if the duties of an administrative employee are defined loosely, then it's easier to make that employee salaried. It isn't only salary that determines a person's overtime security, Ross said. If it did every worker would be put on salary to cut employer costs. A worker's duties must also be evaluated.

The 40-hour work week and "time-and-a-half" has been an American institution for qualifying workers since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Scott MacKenzie, State of Nevada Employees Association executive director, said many of his people will lose overtime because of the new laws, but he doesn't know how many. The association is part of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

"There isn't anybody telling us the new rules and what they're going to do or who'll it affect as of Monday," he said.

A Department of Labor representative said officials have conducted seminars since April on the new laws and taken "unprecedented efforts" to make sure people know where to go for information.

Rosemary Gillie, who works for the Department of Information Technology, is one of the state employees who is worried, but not necessarily about herself.

She works an office job, gets paid hourly and doesn't supervise anyone. Gillie has heard rumors about the changes. She believes many people don't understand them.

"If this in any way screws up the little person who works hard to make a living and needs the overtime to survive, that's not right," Gillie said.

Other local union officials believe most people don't know anything about the changes because they don't think it affects them - until that meeting with the boss, or the first paycheck.

What new overtime laws?

Several area business owners and managers said they are not aware of the overtime changes, or if their business will be affected.

One Incline Village mortgage broker said it won't affect her because she doesn't have any employees, and often they don't work more than 40 hours a week anyway. A manager of a Carson City child-care center was also unaware of the overtime law changes, but she said teachers in her business don't usually work more than seven hours a day. A local funeral director was also unaware of the changes, but he said it won't affect the business because they don't use overtime.

Donal Hummer Jr., Harley-Davidson Financial Services community and government affairs vice president, said his employees know about the changes and they won't be affected.

"We're big on keeping our employees well informed," he said.

Harley-Davidson Financial Services employs 500 people in Nevada and 700 across the country. Hummer said the changes will have little impact on the company because it has consistently and properly classified employees.

According to the Department of Labor, the changes make the laws clearer and easier to enforce. A representative said the laws were interpreted to the benefit of workers, and they are much clearer than before.

Contact Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

New Fair Labor Standards Act - Who's Affected?

Starting Monday, employees classified as executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, computer employees and highly compensated employees will no longer qualify by law for overtime pay.

An employee is classified under one of these groups based on job duties and salary, not job titles.


Those who are exempt from overtime pay must meet these tests:

• Salaried, making more than $455 a week.

• Primary duty must be managing the enterprise, a department or subdivision.

• Regularly direct the work of two or more other full-time employees or their co-workers.

• Have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or make the suggestion.


Those who are exempt from overtime pay must meet these tests:

• Salaried, making more than $455 a week.

• Primary duties must be performance of office or non-manual work directly related to management or general business operations.

• Primary duties includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with significant matters.


Those who are exempt from overtime pay must meet these tests:

Learned professionals

• Salaried, making more than $455 a week.

• Work requires advanced knowledge, mostly intellectual and requires the exercise of discretion and judgment.

• Knowledge in a field of science or learning.

• Knowledge gained from a four-year degree, or specialized instruction.

Creative professionals

• Salaried, making more than $455 a week.

• Primary duty involves invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.

Computer workers

Those who are exempt from overtime pay must meet these tests:

• Salaried, making more than $455 a week, or if paid hourly more than $27.63 an hour.

• Employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or similar worker.

• See U.S. Department of Labor Web site for complete list of duties (

Outside Sales

Those who are exempt from overtime pay must meet these tests:

• Primary duty of making sales or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities.

• Regularly engaged away from the employer's business site.

Highly compensated employees

Office or nonmanual workers paid $100,000 or more annually will not get paid overtime if they regularly perform at least one of the duties of any of the above classifications.

Information from the U.S.

Department of Labor

Not affected by the laws

• Manual laborers and other blue-collar workers.

• Police, firefighters, correctional officers, paramedics and other first responders.

• Those under other laws, employer initiative or collective bargaining agreements.

Information from the U.S. Department of Labor, for a complete list visit


Exempt - All salaried employees for whom overtime pay is not required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Nonexempt - Salaried employees for whom overtime pay is required by the act.

For more information

The U.S. Department of Labor at or 1-866-4-USWAGE

The Economic Policy Institute at

The AFL-CIO at


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