What Are the Labor Laws in Tennessee for Salaried Employees?

By Madison Garcia

An article that discusses rights and entitlements for exempt salaried and nonexempt salaried employees in Tennessee.

Nonexempt employees in Tennessee are entitled to overtime pay, rest breaks and compensation for most on-call time. However, certain salaried employees are exempt from rules regarding overtime and rest breaks. Although exempt employees aren't entitled to extra pay for additional hours, they are entitled to a regular salary.

Being Exempt

Tenneesee's Department of Labor and Workforce Development explicitly notes that the state doesn't have any laws on the regulation of exempt salaried employees. Instead, employers must defer to the standards under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. To be classified as exempt, an employee must meet these three requirements:

  1. The employee must be paid a regular salary of at least $455 per week.
  2. The employee's job must fall into one of the categories that's eligible for an exemption. Executives, administrators, professionals, sales workers and computer employees may be classified as exempt. 
  3. The employee must meet any specific job duty criteria mandated by the Act. Exact requirements vary depending on job category. As a general rule, employees must have some degree of creativity, authority or independent judgement in their role.

Salaried Exempt Employees

Exempt employees in Tennessee aren't paid based on the number of hours they work. Rather, they are paid a consistent salary to get the job done. That means an exempt employee will be paid the same salary whether he works 30 hours a week or 70 hours in a week. If an employee is classified as exempt, he's not entitled to overtime rates of pay or additional compensation for on-call hours. On the other hand, employers can't dock an exempt employee's pay if he works a short day, a half day or less hours than usual during the week.

Salaried Nonexempt Employees

It's worth noting that some employees may be paid on a salaried basis but don't qualify as exempt. These employees are entitled to overtime of time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week. Nonexempt employees also may be entitled to payment for on-call hours. Whether or not a Tennessee employer has to pay for on-call time depends on whether or not the employee's freedom is constrained when he's on call. For example, if an employer requires the employee to stay within 50 miles of work on his day off in case he needs him to come in, his freedom is constrained and the time must be compensated at his normal rate of pay, or at time-and-a-half if he's already worked 40 hours during the week.