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

January 22nd 2024

Grasping a thorough understanding of your rights as a salaried employee holds more relevance than merely knowing your laws. It empowers you as a salaried employee, and it can also be used as a tool to protect yourself in the workplace. 

As you dedicate yourself to your daily job, your compensation offered by your employer plays a vital role in shaping your work position. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the specifics of these arrangements can vary significantly from one U.S. state to another.

This article aims to provide clarity on your employment rights, guiding you toward a more informed and empowered work life. The article will specifically focus on the distinct labor regulations in the state of Delaware.

This Article Covers

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

Defining a Salaried Employee in Delaware

What is Salaried Employment in Delaware?

In Delaware, a salaried employee is an individual who regularly receives a predetermined fixed amount of compensation from their employer. Employers in Delaware are obligated to remunerate their salaried workforce on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, regardless of the hours worked.

Salaried employment in Delaware can be categorized based on eligibility for overtime. The first category includes salaried employees with exempt status, including professionals, executives, and administrative personnel. These employees do not qualify for overtime pay and receive the same compensation regardless of the number of hours worked, even if it exceeds the overtime threshold. On the other hand, non-exempt employees in Delaware are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in a work week.

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

Aspect Salaried Employees Hourly Employees
Minimum Wage Laws Under FLSA and Delaware laws, employees are paid a fixed amount regardless of hours worked. Subject to the minimum wage in Delaware of $13.25/hour. 
Overtime Laws Eligibility for overtime varies. Workers are classified exempt under FLSA for certain positions. Eligible for overtime for work hours exceeding 40 hours in a work week. Entitled to 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
Paid Sick Leave & FMLA Salaried pay may include sick leave; specifics vary by employer. May earn paid sick leave and use it with unpaid FMLA leave.
Paid Vacation Salaried pay may include vacation; specifics vary by employer. May earn paid vacation based on hours worked and employer policies.
Maternity/Paternity Leave May have unpaid provisions. The duration and specifics of leave vary by agreement with the employer. No guaranteed paid leave. Leave terms depend on the employer’s policies.
Job Security Salaried employees typically enjoy more job security. Less job security and stability as salaried employees.

To learn more about Delaware’s labor laws,  you can access our guides on your rights as an hourly employee and laws for salaried employees.

Common Questions About Salaried Employee Rights in Delaware

What are the Basic Rights of Salaried Employees in Delaware?

Salaried employees in Delaware are entitled to a range of basic rights. These rights include:

  • Salaried workers who fall under the non-exempt category have the right to receive the state’s minimum wage.
  • Delaware’s salaried workforce is subject to federal regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
  • Non-exempt salaried employees are eligible to receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for any hours worked beyond 40 hours in a single workweek.
  • Qualified Delaware employees have the privilege of taking unpaid leave for specific medical and family-related reasons under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Workers in Delaware are protected from workplace discrimination based on various characteristics, including disability, national origin, ancestry, race, color, religion, gender, and military veteran status.
  • Salaried employees have the entitlement to a workplace that adheres to safety standards outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), ensuring their well-being and access to necessary safety training.

Is Overtime Pay Applicable to Salaried Employees in Delaware?

There are some salaried employees who may be exempt from receiving overtime compensation, but this exemption does not apply to all salaried workers. The determination of exemption status for salaried employees in the state is made in accordance with federal guidelines, which encompass the following classifications:

  • Professionals: These individuals have amassed advanced knowledge and expertise through years of experience, which they apply in overseeing and managing departments within their respective organizations.
  • Executives: They possess advanced knowledge and expertise and hold the authority to make decisions regarding the hiring and termination of employees within their organizations.
  • Computer Employees: This group includes positions such as software engineers, computer programmers, or analysts.
  • Administrative Employees: This category includes individuals in roles related to accounting, quality control, human resources, personnel management, or labor relations.

For more information on overtime laws, you can access our guide on Delaware overtime laws.

Can Employers Deduct Wages from Salaried Employees in Delaware?

No. Employers are not allowed to take or redirect any part of an employee’s pay unless specific conditions are met, as detailed in Del. Code tit. 19 § 1107.

Are Salaried Employees Eligible for Breaks and Leaves in Delaware?

In Delaware, all employees must receive a meal break of at least 30 consecutive minutes if the employee is scheduled to work 7.5 or more hours per day. Meal breaks must be given sometime after the first 2 hours of work and before the last 2 hours of work. Minors are entitled to a 30-minute break for every 5 hours worked.

Employers in the state of Delaware are required to offer several types of leave to their employees. Companies have the liberty to decide based on their policies whether they provide sick leave. However, there may be obligations under laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers cannot penalize employees for taking jury duty leave, and any compensation employees receive from the state for jury duty cannot be treated as wages. 

Emergency response leave isn’t required for volunteer emergency responders, but it’s against the law for employers to punish employees participating in state-declared emergencies or who sustain injuries from them. State employees, teachers, and school employees are entitled to up to 30 days of paid leave for organ donation and up to 7 days for bone marrow donation. Lastly, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) requires Delaware employers to grant military leave for the entire tour plus an additional 90 days after, ensuring job security for employees called for military service, a law that all states in the US follow.

Can Salaried Employees Request Flexible Work Arrangements in Delaware?

The State of Delaware recognizes the importance of providing employees with alternative work options, such as telecommuting and flexible work schedules. These options can be considered based on the operational needs of the company and the essential functions of the position. The Alternative Arrangement Work policy outlines specific guidelines for telecommuting, alternative work locations, and flexible work schedules, to improve efficiency while allowing both agencies and employees more flexibility in delivering state services.

This policy creates new opportunities for the state’s workforce to perform their duties effectively, enhances the balance between work and personal life, helps attract and retain employees, and supports the uninterrupted operation of services. All of this is achieved while adhering to state statutes, merit rules, and other applicable regulations.

Understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Status in Delaware

Understanding the distinction between exempt and non-exempt status is crucial for salaried employees to navigate their rights and responsibilities effectively.

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

In Delaware, an exempt employee is someone who is not eligible for overtime compensation when they work more than 40 hours in a week. This applies to individuals who earn a minimum of $684 per week (equivalent to an annual income of $35,568) and hold specific job roles, such as executive, administrative, professional, computer-related, or outside sales positions, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Exempt employees do not have the right to receive overtime pay, even if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Employers must have an understanding of both the FLSA and Delaware labor laws to ensure they comply, as incorrectly classifying employees can lead to expensive wage disputes and legal actions.

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

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 typically hold managerial or professional roles. Job roles vary but may include blue-collar workers, clerical staff, or retail employees.
Compensation Exempt employees typically earn more due to skill and discretion expected. These workers receive an hourly rate with flexibility in scheduling.
Stability Stable paycheck and benefit eligibility. Varied hours, potential for instability.
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 Delaware?

To determine if you’re exempt of non-exempt in Delaware, you can apply the following criteria to classify your exemption status, as established by the FLSA:

  1. Salary Level Test: If your annual salary exceeds $35,568 ($684 per week), you might be eligible for exempt classification.
  2. Salary Basis Test: If you receive a guaranteed minimum compensation, irrespective of the actual hours worked, you might qualify for exempt status.
  3. Duties Test: In addition to fulfilling the initial prerequisites, your job responsibilities also fall into exempt classifications. These encompass executive duties, professional tasks involving intellectual work demanding specialized education and judgment, and administrative functions requiring discretion and judgment.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Delaware

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

Delaware’s minimum wage stands at $13.25 per hour, surpassing the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates the minimum salary prerequisites for exempt salaried employees. At present, exempt employees in Delaware must be paid a weekly compensation of at least $684.

How is Overtime Compensated for Salaried Employees in Delaware?

When a salaried employee eligible for overtime works beyond 40 hours within a given work week, they will be entitled to receive overtime compensation at a rate of one and a half times their regular hourly wage.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Delaware

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

An employer can only withhold or redirect any part of an employee’s wages in the following cases:

  • When required or authorized by state or federal law.
  • When the deductions are for medical, surgical, or hospital services, and do not benefit the employer financially. These deductions must be clearly recorded in the employer’s financial records.
  • When the employer has obtained written permission from the employee for lawful deductions that benefit the employee.

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

Delaware laws offer various protections and benefits which include the following:

  • Minimum Wage: Delaware’s minimum wage stands at $13.25, surpassing the federal minimum wage requirement.
  • Overtime Pay: Eligible workers are entitled to receive 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for hours worked beyond 40 in a single workweek.
  • Paid Sick Leave: Delaware mandates paid sick leave for employees. Accrual rates are determined based on the size of the employer’s workforce.
  • Equal Pay for Equal Work: Delaware has laws in place to address pay equity and prohibit wage discrimination based on gender. 
  • Workers’ Compensation: In the event of work-related injuries or illnesses, Delaware employees are eligible for medical benefits and wage replacement, including vocational retraining for those with permanent disabilities.
  • Unemployment Insurance: Financial assistance is available to individuals whose previous employers have contributed to the state’s unemployment tax fund.
  • Protection Against Discrimination: Delaware enforces robust anti-discrimination laws, safeguarding employees from discrimination based on various factors such as race, gender, age, and more.
  • Family and Medical Leave: The Delaware Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job-protected, unpaid leave for eligible employees for up to 12 weeks for specific reasons. This includes family or medical emergencies.
  • Whistleblower Protection: Delaware law includes provisions to shield employees who report workplace misconduct from retaliation, ensuring their rights and job security are preserved.

Taking Action Against Violations in Delaware

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

If you have any concerns related to interactions involving employees, personnel matters, or issues about processing and procedures, you should submit a formal complaint to the Department of Justice (DOJ). If you believe that your employment rights have been infringed upon under the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act or the Handicapped Persons Employment Protections Act, you can file a discrimination charge with the Delaware Department of Labor.

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

Employee Retaliation: Delaware Company Pays Fired Worker $40k in Back Wages

The U.S. Department of Labor has reached an agreement with Donovan Salvage Works, a Delaware salvage yard company, and its owner following a federal whistleblower investigation. The investigation revealed that the company had terminated a smelter operator who had reported safety concerns. 

In this case, the smelter operator had alerted his supervisor about a propane leak in the smelter, a legitimate safety concern. Instead of addressing the issue promptly, the supervisor ignored the employee’s concerns and instructed him to continue working. It was only after the employee refused to do so that the supervisor reluctantly called technicians to address the problem.

Subsequently, the employee reported the safety hazard to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In response, the company decided to fire the employee in retaliation for contacting OSHA. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to pay $40,000 in back wages and damages, remove references to protected activity and negative actions from the employee’s personnel file, provide a neutral job reference, post-OSHA whistleblower information at the worksite, and provide whistleblower training to all employees.

Lessons Learned from this Case

  1. Protecting Employee Rights: Employers must respect and protect the rights of employees who raise safety concerns. Retaliation against employees for reporting workplace hazards not only endangers workers but also discourages others from speaking up.
  2. Addressing Safety Concerns: It is crucial for employers to promptly address safety concerns raised by employees. Ignoring or delaying action on such concerns can lead to hazardous situations and legal consequences.
  3. The Legal Consequences of Retaliation: Employers should be aware that retaliation against whistleblowers can result in significant legal and financial consequences. This case underscores the importance of creating a workplace culture where safety concerns are taken seriously, and employees are encouraged to report hazards without fear of reprisal.

Unfair Wage Practices: Delaware Company Ordered to Pay $50k in Liquidated Damages

A federal court has mandated that a Delaware-based landscaping firm, DeVilbiss Landscape Architects Inc., and its owner and president, Paul DeVilbiss. The ruling comes as a response to a litigation initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor. In the U.S. DOL vs. DeVilbiss case, DeVilbiss Landscape Architects is ordered to disburse $50,622 in liquidated damages to ten temporary employees. This ruling stems from a thorough investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, followed by a jury’s verdict that affirmed the company’s obligation to also reimburse these workers an equivalent amount in overtime back wages, due to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) laws.

The court, operating under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, issued its decision on March 28, 2022, post a jury trial that transpired from June 30, 2021, to July 2, 2021. During this trial, the jury found that the employers had indeed violated the FLSA, establishing Paul DeVilbiss as a legally responsible employer, and held them liable for $50,622.54 in unpaid wages. In the most recent judgment, the court determined that the employers failed to demonstrate a good faith belief in their compliance with the law, leading to an additional imposition of $50,622.64 in liquidated damages, in addition to the awarded overtime back pay.

Lessons Learned from the Case

  • Adherence to Labor Regulations: This case highlights the importance of employers adhering to labor regulations, particularly the Fair Labor Standards Act. Non-compliance can result in costly legal ramifications, including the need to pay back wages and liquidated damages.
  • Accurate Worker Classification: Employers must correctly classify their employees according to relevant labor laws. Misclassifying workers can lead to legal disputes and financial penalties, as exemplified in this instance.
  • Proof of Good Faith Compliance: Employers must provide evidence of a genuine belief that they are complying with labor laws. Failing to demonstrate this belief can lead to unfavorable legal outcomes, as illustrated by the court’s decision in this case.

Final Thoughts

As a salaried worker in Delaware, possessing a grasp of your legal entitlements and safeguards is imperative. This knowledge not only enables you to shield yourself against potential violations but also empowers you to advocate for your well-being.

Keeping up-to-date with changes in labor laws is essential for ensuring a positive workplace experience. Given the complex nature of employment regulations, seeking professional advice by consulting an employment attorney, contacting The U.S. Department of Labor, or consulting the Office of the Labor Commissioner can offer invaluable information and direction.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up-to-date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred for use of this guide.