As in other cases, the federal government establishes minimum standards when it comes to paying employees in the Detroit are or elsewhere overtime compensation, and states are free to go above and beyond these standards when writing their own wage and hour laws.
It is not terribly controversial that employers in Michigan, under federal law, have to pay time and half an employee's hourly wage if the employer requires the employee to work more than 40 hours in a given work week. However, it is unfortunate that many employers do what they can to get around this rule.
One of the more controversial areas of employment law in which employers try to press their advantage is in the area of classifying employees, as some employees legally are exempt from overtime requirements. In many cases, these exempt employees are salaried employees who make a set amount each week no matter how long they work.
While this is not an issue when an employee's salary is high enough, if, for example, an employee's salary is $30,000 a year and they are expected to put in 60 hours a week, then, at 52 weeks a year, they are making only $9.62 an hour and don't have a lot of free time to be looking for a higher paying job.
The exemptions an employer can rely on to pay his or her employees a salary without regard to the number of hours worked are very specific. Generally speaking, a person has to make at least $455 a week in salary and has to generally be doing some managerial or professional task.
While paying $455 a week threshold is fairly easy and straightforward for an employer to meet, sometimes employers have been caught treating employees as professionals or managers when the reality is there work is more akin to an hourly wage-earner with some supervisory duties. These sorts of employees deserve their overtime pay, even if they are, at least on the surface, salaried.