Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as a salaried employee in Alabama?

April 11th 2024

Understanding your legal entitlements as a salaried employee is a means to empower you within your workplace and will serve as a safeguard to help you protect yourself.

As you dedicate yourself to your daily work responsibilities, the compensation provided by your employer assumes a pivotal role in shaping your professional path. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the specifics of these arrangements can vary significantly when you cross state borders within the United States.

This article strives to provide clarity regarding your employment rights, guiding you toward a more informed and self-assured professional journey. We will specifically focus on the distinct labor regulations in the state of Alabama.

This Article Covers

Defining a Salaried Employee in Alabama
Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Alabama
Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Alabama
Wage and Hour Regulations in Alabama
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Alabama
Taking Action Against Violations in Alabama
Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Alabama

Defining a Salaried Employee in Alabama

What is Salaried Employment in Alabama?

In Alabama, a salaried employee is someone who receives a fixed and predetermined payment at the end of each pay period, regardless of how much or how well they work.

Salaried employment in Alabama falls into two categories, depending on whether employees are eligible for overtime pay. The first category includes salaried employees who don’t qualify for overtime pay or compensatory time because they are exempt from overtime regulations. The second category includes non-exempt employees, who  qualify for overtime pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in a work week.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Alabama?

Aspect Salaried Employees Hourly Employees
Compensation Basis Receive a fixed salary twice a month. Paid an hourly wage for hours worked.
Overtime Typically exempt from overtime laws and overtime pay with a few exceptions. Typically eligible for overtime pay for time worked beyond 40 hours in one workweek.
Work Schedule Work a fixed number of hours per week as per the employee’s contract or based on an agreement with the employer. May work variable hours.
Job Security More job security due to income, contract agreements, and protections by federal and state laws. Less job security due to fluctuating work hours and changes in demand.
Exempt/Non-Exempt Status May be classified as exempt from certain labor laws like overtime pay. Exemption status depends on job role and compensation. Typically classified as non-exempt and eligible for overtime.
Skill Levels  Typically have specialized skills, education, or experience. Skills vary from entry-level to skilled labor.
Employment Regulations Subject to federal laws such as the FLSA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in addition to select state labor laws.  Subject to the state labor laws, including overtime, minimum wage, and wage and hour laws. 
Minimum Wage Subject to either the state minimum wage of $7.25 or the federal minimum salary threshold for exempt employees. Subject to the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. 

Learn more about Alabama labor laws through our guide on the rights of hourly employees in Alabama.

Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Alabama

What are the Basic Rights of Salaried Employees in Alabama?

Here are the key rights and protections that salaried employees in Alabama should know to ensure a fair and respectful workplace:

  • Age Discrimination Protection: Employees aged 40 and above are safeguarded from age-related discrimination during hiring and employment processes.
  • Veterans’ Hiring Preference: Employers can give veterans an advantage in job applications, but this is voluntary.
  • Record Expungement: People with certain past legal issues may have them removed from their records, which means they don’t have to disclose them during job applications.
  • Equal Employment for Individuals with Disabilities: Persons with disabilities can have equal job opportunities in public services if their disability doesn’t prevent them from doing the job.
  • Right-to-Work: Employees can choose whether or not to join a labor union, and it’s illegal for anyone to make union membership mandatory.
  • At-Will Employment: Employees can be terminated at any time and for any reason, as long as it’s not due to discrimination based on factors like race, age, or ethnicity.
  • Final Paychecks: Alabama doesn’t have specific rules for the timing of an employee’s final paycheck, except for sales representatives, who must be paid their commissions within 30 days of termination.

Is Overtime Pay Applicable to Salaried Employees in Alabama?

Yes, overtime pay is applicable to salaried employees in Alabama under specific circumstances. Salaried employees in Alabama are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a single work week.

To determine the overtime rate for these salaried employees, employers should calculate their hourly pay rate by dividing the total salary by the number of hours intended to be covered by that salary. Overtime pay, at a rate of one and a half times the regular pay, is applicable only after an employee has worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. If an employee’s salary covers fewer than 40 hours in a workweek, their regular rate will be used for additional hours worked until the 40-hour threshold is reached. To learn more about overtime laws, you can access our guide on Alabama overtime laws.

Can Employers Deduct Wages from Salaried Employees in Alabama?

No. Employers in Alabama are restricted from deducting amounts from an employee’s compensation unless such deductions are permitted by law. Permissible deductions can include things like income tax withholdings and deductions initiated and declared in writing, by the employee. It is imperative to emphasize that employers are not authorized to withdraw funds from an employee’s pay to cover their routine business expenditures.

Are Salaried Employees Eligible for Breaks and Leaves in Alabama?

In Alabama, there are no distinct regulations pertaining to breaks and meal periods. The state aligns with the provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The responsibility for determining break schedules and arrangements depends on negotiation between employers and their staff. Both parties must be well-informed about their individual entitlements and responsibilities concerning breaks and meal periods.

Can Salaried Employees Request Flexible Work Arrangements in Alabama?

Alabama state laws do not prescribe an 8-hour limit for a workday but do set a 40-hour limit for a workweek. Consequently, employers within the state have the discretion to provide adaptable work arrangements to their employees.

Common flexible work arrangements in Alabama encompass alternative work schedules, enabling employees to exceed 40 hours in one week and reduce their hours the following week. Additionally, remote work arrangements are prevalent, permitting employees to work outside of the office, provided they fulfill their work responsibilities effectively.

Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Alabama

What is the Definition and Implications of Exempt Status in Alabama?

In Alabama, exempt status refers to the classification of certain employees who are exempt from specific labor regulations, particularly pertaining to overtime pay and other related provisions. Exempt employees in Alabama, as in most U.S. states, are typically salaried employees who are exempt from overtime laws as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The implications and benefits of exempt status in Alabama include:

  • Minimum Salary Guarantee: Exempt employees in Alabama are typically guaranteed a minimum salary as per FLSA standards, providing financial security and ensuring a baseline level of income.
  • Job Autonomy and Responsibility: Exempt positions often come with more decision-making authority and increased responsibility, affording employees the opportunity to take on leadership roles and have a greater impact on their organizations.
  • Salary Cap: While there is a guaranteed salary, it may not increase significantly over time, limiting the earning potential compared to roles with variable compensation like hourly pay or commissions.
  • High Stress and Responsibility: With autonomy and authority come increased responsibilities, potentially leading to high-stress levels and work-related pressure.
  • Benefits and Perks: Exempt employees usually have access to a wider range of benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, enhancing their overall compensation and well-being.
  • Professional Growth: Employers may invest in the professional development of exempt employees through training and educational opportunities, allowing them to enhance their skills and advance in their careers.
  • Job Security and Legal Protections: Exempt status typically provides stronger legal protections, ensuring job security and offering protection in cases of workplace disputes, discrimination, or wrongful termination.

What are the Differences Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Salaried Employees in Alabama?

Aspect Exempt Employees Non-exempt Employees
Overtime Generally not eligible for overtime pay. Eligible for overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week. Entitled rate of one-and-a-half times the standard hourly wage.
Pay Structure Paid on a salary basis. Paid hourly.
Monitoring Hours Not expected to track hours worked. Expected to track and report hours worked
Employee Type Employees who hold managerial or professional roles. Job roles vary but may include blue-collar workers, skilled tradesmen, clerical staff, or retail employees.
Compensation Exempt employees typically earn more due to their positions and skill. These workers receive an hourly rate with flexibility in scheduling.
Stability Stable paycheck and benefit eligibility. Varied hours, potentially unstable.
Paid Time Off May qualify for paid vacation or sick time. Typically, they are not eligible for paid time off.
Benefits and Perks Depending on their employment agreement, workers might enjoy extra perks like paid time off, bonuses, or other incentives. Eligible for accrued sick leave.

How to Determine if You're Exempt or Non-Exempt in Alabama?

To determine whether you are categorized as an exempt or non-exempt employee in Alabama, it is imperative to adhere to the guidelines established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):

  • Salary Threshold Examination: If your annual salary surpasses $35,568 per annum, you may be eligible for exempt status.
  • Salary Basis Assessment: You could qualify as an exempt employee if you receive a fixed minimum compensation regardless of the number of hours worked.
  • Job Duties Evaluation: To qualify as exempt, you must satisfy the criteria of the initial two tests and also hold a job position that falls within exempt categories. These responsibilities may encompass tasks such as overseeing administrative functions, regularly supervising two or more employees, engaging in professional work that necessitates specific education, and making significant decisions based on your discretion.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Alabama

What are the Minimum Wage Requirements for Salaried Employees in Alabama?

Alabama’s minimum wage is fixed at $7.25 per hour, as stipulated by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Notably, Alabama lacks its own state-specific minimum wage law. Federal regulations permit employers to pay a reduced minimum wage of $4.25 per hour to employees under the age of 20 during their initial 90 days of employment. This reduced minimum wage applies only for a limited time from the commencement of employment.

For tipped employees, the minimum wage is set at $2.13 per hour. However, it is imperative to ensure that the combined earnings per hour, inclusive of tips, amount to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

How is Overtime Compensated for Salaried Employees in Alabama?

As per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to give extra pay to non-exempt employees when they work more than 40 hours in a week. In Alabama, this extra pay must be at least 1.5 times their regular hourly wage.

Moreover, salaried employees with changing work hours have the right to receive overtime pay at half their hourly rate for each hour worked beyond 40 in a week. This is calculated using the “fluctuating workweek” (FWW) method.

To be eligible for FWW, employees must have varying hours each week, get a fixed salary no matter how many hours they work, and earn at least the federal or state minimum wage per hour.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Alabama

What are the Permissible Deductions from Salaried Employee Pay in Alabama?

In Alabama, there are strict rules regarding reducing the pay of exempt employees. Usually, if you need to cut an exempt employee’s salary, it should be done in whole-day portions. The only exception is if they’re absent for part of a day due to a reason that aligns with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FMLA). In that case, you can reduce their pay for the time they missed.

Apart from that, you can only make deductions in full-day blocks, and the exempt employee must still receive a full day’s pay for any partial day worked. The following deductions are considered permissible under these guidelines:

  • If an employee is absent for personal reasons for one or more full days, excluding sickness or disability.
  • When an employee is absent due to sickness or disability for one or more full days, but only if there’s a legitimate plan or policy compensating for illness-related pay loss.
  • To account for jury fees, witness fees, or temporary military duty pay received by the employee.
  • For penalties imposed in good faith for serious violations of safety rules.
  • For unpaid suspensions of one or more full days as a disciplinary measure for workplace rule violations, as long as they are imposed in good faith.
  • In the employee’s first or last week of work if they don’t work the whole week.
  • For unpaid leave taken under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

What are the Provided Employee Benefits and Protections Under Alabama State Law?

Employees in Alabama enjoy a variety of benefits and legal protections under state legislation, which encompass the following:

  • Protection Against Discrimination: Alabama’s laws ensure that individuals cannot be subjected to unfair treatment or workplace harassment based on factors such as gender, race, age, or other protected characteristics.
  • Prevention of Sexual Harassment: In Alabama, it is unlawful for any person to engage in sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are expected to maintain a work environment free from any form of harassment or hostility.
  • Equitable Treatment for Individuals with Disabilities: The Alabama Fair Employment Practices Act guarantees that employers may not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations, except for when it presents undue hardship.
  • Parental Leave and Pregnancy: If employed by a company with a minimum of six employees in Alabama, individuals have the right to take up to eight weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. This right applies to all employees, regardless of their gender.
  • Employers must provide a reasonable break and an allocated room for employees to express breast milk.
  • Religious Accommodations: Employees are entitled to request accommodations to practice their religion in Alabama, particularly concerning specific beliefs or practices.

Taking Action Against Violations in Alabama

How to Report Violations to Authorities or Labor Departments in Alabama?

If you find yourself facing a health and safety concern in the workplace, you can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) area office that is closest to you. Federal employees who have been discriminated against should reach out to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for assistance. The charge must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation.

Case Studies and Real-Life Scenarios of Salaried Employee Rights Violations in Alabama

Violation of Leave Laws: Alabama Company Pays Back Wages for Denied Paid Leave

In a case involving Eagle Cleaning Services, a janitorial company based in Bessemer, Alabama, the company was found to have violated the requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA provides workers with up to two weeks of paid leave and an additional 10 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds of their regular pay rate to care for their children when their school or childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.

In this case, the company wrongly denied paid leave to an employee who had to miss work to care for children engaged in distance learning due to school closures prompted by the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) intervened and ensured the company paid $2,066 in back wages to the employee and committed to complying with the FFCRA’s requirements in the future.

Lessons learned from this case

  • Compliance with Employment Laws: Employers must thoroughly understand and adhere to employment laws and regulations, particularly those related to employee leave and benefits. 
  • Communication and Training: Employers should communicate their policies and responsibilities to employees clearly. Providing training to staff about their rights and the company’s obligations under laws like the FFCRA is crucial in ensuring that both parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Government Enforcement: The case highlights that government agencies are actively monitoring and enforcing compliance with employment laws.

Racial Discrimination: Alabama Beverage Distributor to pay $825,000 in Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Birmingham Beverage Company, operating under the name AlaBev, has settled a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In the EEOC vs. As part of the settlement, AlaBev will pay $825,000 and take corrective actions to address the allegations. The lawsuit, initiated in 2017, claimed that the company violated federal law by not promoting or considering African American employees, including Ronnie Johnson, for open route sales positions. 

Despite Johnson’s six years of outstanding job performance and previous experience in route sales, the company chose to promote a white delivery driver with only nine months of experience, whom Johnson was supervising at the time. Additionally, the EEOC alleged a pattern of discrimination against Black employees in hiring and promotions, with no African American employees hired over the four years leading up to the lawsuit.

Lessons learned from the case

  • Ensuring Equal Opportunity Compliance: This case highlights the importance of strict enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws. Employers must be held responsible for discriminatory actions.
  • Fair Hiring and Promotion Practices: Employers must have impartial and non-discriminatory policies in place for hiring and promoting employees.
  • Emphasizing Diversity and Inclusion: Companies must actively cultivate diverse and inclusive work environments where employees are assessed based on their qualifications and capabilities, rather than being excluded due to their racial or ethnic background.

Final Thoughts

In the state of Alabama, it is paramount to possess a profound understanding of your legal rights and protections. This knowledge is of great significance, as it not only safeguards you against potential violations but also empowers you to effectively advocate for your well-being.

Remaining well-informed about any modifications or updates to labor laws is crucial for fostering a favorable workplace environment. Given the intricate nature of employment regulations, it is highly recommended to seek expert guidance. You can achieve this by consulting with an employment attorney, reaching out to the U.S. Department of Labor, or seeking counsel from the Office of the Labor Commissioner. These resources offer invaluable information and assistance to help you navigate the legal landscape proficiently.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.