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An exempt manager can't use pay stub to force an employer to abide by 40-hour workweek


Q. I work as a sales manager for a major corporation. I average 50 to 60 hours a week, but since I am exempt I don't earn overtime. Yet, my pay stub states that I work 40 hours. Can I use this as a legal document to force my employer to abide by a 40-hour week?

A. Sorry. That bit of information on your pay stub doesn't constitute a contract to limit your hours. That data is part of the employment records your company must keep. Sadly, if you truly are a manager, your company can ask you to work any number of hours without paying you for overtime. In general, workers like you are managers if they earn a salary of at least $455 a week and spend most of their time supervising at least two employees.

Being exempt from overtime does have its virtues. One of the benefits is that your company can't legally dock you for partial days. So if you're late a couple of hours one day because of a doctor's appointment, the company can't legally dock you for that time or force you to make it up.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Co. newspaper. E-mail her at

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