Brown Law Office 972-355-0092
Brown Law Office 972-355-0092
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Employer Law FAQ

What is the Professional Exemption to the FLSA?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires covered employers to pay qualified employees at least the minimum wage for each hour worked up to 40 hours in a workweek, and overtime compensation at one and a half times the regular hourly rate of pay for each hour worked over 40 in a workweek.

Certain categories of employees, however, are partially or entirely exempt from the minimum wage and overtime compensation provisions of the FLSA. Professionals are one of these exempt groups. Professionals are divided into two categories: learned professionals and creative professionals.

Learned Professionals

In order to qualify for the learned professional exemption, the following conditions must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis of at least $455 per week
  • The employee's primary work duty must require advanced knowledge in the field of science or learning
  • The advanced knowledge must be of the type customarily acquired by a prolonged course of study

Salary basis means that the employee regularly receives a predetermined amount of compensation each week, regardless of the number of hours or days actually worked. Fee basis, on the other hand, refers to employees who are paid a certain amount for a single job or project without consideration of the amount of time it takes to complete the job or project.

Advanced knowledge means that the work must be primarily intellectual in nature and require the employee to analyze, interpret and deduce information rather than use ordinary or routine mental, physical, mechanical or manual skills. Also, the advanced knowledge must have been acquired through specialized academic training, which is normally evidenced by a degree in the field of training. However, in some instances, employees with a combination of work experience and academic training may qualify for the learned professional exemption.

Examples of professions that are in the fields of science or learning include:

  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Sciences - biology, chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Accounting
  • Theology
  • Teaching

Creative Professionals

In order for an employee to qualify for the creative professional exemption, the following conditions must be met:

  • The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis of at least $455 per week
  • The employee's primary work duty must require invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor

Examples of professions that may qualify for the creative professional exemption include:

  • Writers
  • Artists
  • Painters
  • Actors
  • Musicians and composers

Whether or not an employee falls within the professional exemption is not dependent on the employee's job title, but rather the employee's job duties and salary. Employers who wrongly exempt employees as professionals may face legal action from employees seeking unpaid overtime compensation. For more information on FLSA exemptions or other employment law matters, contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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Betty L. Brown
Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
in Labor and Employment Law
Fountain Park
1021 Long Prairie Road, Suite 402
Flower Mound, TX 75022
Phone: 972-355-0092
Fax: 972-899-9635
E-mail: betty@brownemploymentlaw.com