Some employees in Tennessee may be concerned that their employers will convert them from hourly to salary to avoid paying overtime. In most cases, it's not legal for an employer to do this. That's because most people are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates that employers pay overtime for every hour after 40 hours in a week. There are some exceptions to the rule.
The only way an employer can exempt an employee from overtime requirements is if they meet certain criteria. They have to have a minimum level of salary, receive the same pay every period regardless of hours worked and meet the duties test. Generally, the duties test requires that the employee fit into one of a few categories: manager, credentialed professionals, independent workers or outside sales. If a boss switches an employee to salaried exempt but does not change their duties to one of these categories, it's a big red flag.
A worker has the right to confront their employer if they believe they've been falsely classified as an exempt salaried employee. Bosses should be able to clearly explain their reasoning for the new classification, so something is likely wrong if they aren't able to provide justification for their actions. An employee should keep detailed records of their hours worked during this period.
When an employee believes that they are being paid unfairly and they're unable to resolve the situation through HR or management, they have options to get the compensation they deserve. An attorney can help an employee file a complaint with the Department of Labor and even file a lawsuit if necessary. It's the responsibility of an attorney to stay up to date on all wage and hour laws that affect their clients.