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exempt and not salaried Minnesota

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  • exempt and not salaried Minnesota

    I work in a hospital as a mental health therapist. I am scheduled to work 32 hours a week. I am an exempt professional. They have my pay setup so that if I work extra hours, I get paid nothing for those hours. However, if I work less hours due to not having many patients, then I also get paid less. How is it legal for me to get paid less for those weeks when I am exempt?
    Note: I called DOL and they were not able to tell me if a mental health therapist qualifies as a practitioner of medicine. Personally, I don't think I am.
    Last edited by TKD; 10-15-2010, 08:04 AM.

  • #2
    If they couldn't give you an opinion, not sure how we could. You can certainly file a claim for unpaid time (in effect, misclassification) with the state DOL and see how it works out.
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    • #3
      Then, am I correct that it is not right for them to not pay me for working less hours due to non-personal reasons (assuming that I am not practicing medicine)?

      I will call the state office to see if they can give me any clarification about the practice of medicine.


      • #4
        That's not what I said. IF your work falls under the Learned Professsional exemption, then you CAN be paid an hourly rate for hours worked only; in that case, a guaranteed salary is not required.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5
          Agreed with what Patty said. I will include a pointer the related DOL factsheet, plus the most applicable cite from that sheet.

          Past that, while most states nominally follow the same federal DOL rules, point in fact, most wage claims are decided by state DOL, not federal DOL. And not all states call "balls and strikes" exactly the same way even though they (mostly) are using the same rules. Basically a state ALJ will listen to all your facts, plus everything the employer says (which will not agree with what you said). The ALJ has to figure out whose story they like best. Then they have to look at all prior decisions WITHIN THE STATE that are similar to your facts. Meaning your state does not care how the feds or WI-DOL will decide this, just how your state has decided this in the past.

          Take a very hard look at the entire factsheet.

          Practice of Law or Medicine

          An employee holding a valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law or medicine is exempt if the employee is actually engaged in such a practice. An employee who holds the requisite academic degree for the general practice of medicine is also exempt if he or she is engaged in an internship or resident program for the profession. The salary and salary basis requirements do not apply to bona fide practitioners of law or medicine.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


          • #6
            Thank you for such a quick reply. I do not believe I practice medicine per that paragraph. If they paid me a salary then I would perfectly fit the definition of an exempt employee, but they do not.
            I contacted my HR and they don't seem to be able to follow my logic and don't see anything wrong with it. I will give them some more time, but I may have to call the state wage office.
            I have to say I am a little nervous since I just got this job and I like it. If I file a complaint, is there any protection for the worker from retaliation (termination, etc.) from the company? I'm afraid that if I file a complaint I may get fired.


            • #7
              Theoretically, yes, if you are fired for making an complaint of a possible violation (even if you end up being wrong) that could give rise to a wrongful termination law suit. Having said that, you would need an attorney to sue and it would cost you money and LOTS of time, possibly many months, to get to trial.

              Now, could the employer come up with some other contrived reason to fire you? Sure. OTOH, judges have heard this for decades and the closer the firing is to the time the employer was notified of the complaint, the better your chances would be, if it got that far.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.