Understanding Tennessee Overtime Laws


In Tennessee, most hourly employees who work overtime are entitled to overtime pay of at least $10.88 an hour. The minimum wage in Tennessee is $7.25 an hour as of 2021, and the state adheres to the federal “time and a half” overtime standard.

If you work more than 40 hours in a given workweek, you will be entitled to 1.5 times your regular hourly wage for the additional hours. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), this applies whether you make minimum wage or a higher hourly wage.

Tennessee has very few state-specific labor laws and overtime rules, so the FLSA applies in most cases. Under the FLSA, there is no limit to the amount of overtime you can work in a day, but you cannot exceed over 40 hours of overtime per workweek.

What Is a Workweek?

To clarify, the FLSA defines an employee’s workweek as “a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods.” Just because an employee has an unusual schedule does not mean that employee is exempt from overtime requirements. All eligible employees should receive 1.5 times their regular wage after working more than 40 hours in a 7-day workweek.

Overtime Exemptions

Of course, some employees are exempt from overtime requirements. Executives, administrators, and other professionals earning at least $684 per week are not entitled to overtime. Similarly, external salespeople who set their own hours are not subject to overtime requirements, nor are independent contractors or certain live-in employees (like housekeepers and nannies).

The four (4) main exemptions to overtime law in Tennessee (and nationwide) include:

  1. Executive positions – you manage 2 or more employees as your full-time responsibility and your job is salaried.
  2. Administrative positions – you must be salaried and perform office work related to business operations, management policies, or administrative training
  3. Professional positions – your duties require advanced knowledge and education and are primarily intellectual, you are salaried, you use your discretion and judgment at work.
  4. Outside sales positions – your primary duties are making sales or taking orders outside of your employer’s main workplace, and you are paid on salary or commission.

In all 4 categories, you should spend no more than 20% of your time (40% in retail environments) doing activities that fall outside of your position. You also need to make more than $684 per week to be exempt on a salary basis.

Protected Workers

Due to the grueling nature of some jobs and the high potential for exploitation in certain fields, the FLSA guarantees overtime to certain workers. For example, all first responders – including police officers, paramedics, and firefighters – have explicit overtime rights under the FLSA.

Other protected workers include:

  • Construction workers
  • Factory workers
  • Cashiers
  • Practical nurses
  • Paralegals
  • And more

Essentially, if your job involves manual labor, or you work in the legal or medical fields, you may have specific overtime protection under the FLSA.

What If I Am Not Getting Paid Overtime?

As you can see, most employees in Tennessee are entitled to overtime wages. If you have been working over 40 hours per week and have not been receiving “time and a half,” you should alert your employer and HR department (if available).

Your employer cannot threaten, suspend, or fire you for alerting them to this issue – nor for filing a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. If the state Department of Labor cannot solve your case, you can also file a civil lawsuit for back wages and other damages.

Donati Law, PLLC has over 35 years of experience helping employees in Memphis and the Mid-South recover back wages and damages in overtime claims. We are truly committed to making our community a better place to live and work, and every client is a cause we believe in.

If you need legal help and protection under the law, step behind The Donati Shield. Call us at (901) 209-5500 or contact us online to get started today.

Every Client is a Cause We Believe In

To discuss your case with an accomplished attorney who cares, give our firm a call at (901) 209-5500 or fill out the form below.

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