Are Paralegals Entitled to Overtime Pay?
Good question! The answer is: it depends. The FSLA (Fair Labor Standards Act) is relevant to this issue, as we discuss below.
Section 13(a)(1) of the FSLA provides that certain employees are exempt from overtime if employed in bona fide executive, administrative, or a professional capacity. The administrative exemption requires the primary employment to be directly related to management policies or general business operations of the employer. Federal Courts and the Department of Labor have consistently held that paralegals are engaged in the “production work” of the employer and do not qualify for exemption as bona fide administrative employees or under any other exemption.
The Department of Labor has consistently held that paralegals and legal assistants must be paid time and a half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Work duties for paralegals may include drafting legal documents, interviewing witnesses, maintaining files, and preparing correspondence among other duties. The Department of Labor has held that the duties of paralegals do not involve the exercise of discretion and independent judgment to be exempt from overtime pay.
Paralegals typically draft particular documents to assist attorneys on a particular case or matter. The paralegals are not formulating or implementing management policies, planning business objectives, nor providing legal advice, which could qualify them as exempt. Paralegals do apply particular skills and knowledge, but they do not necessarily exercise independent judgment or advice, thus they may be entitled to overtime pay and deemed to have non-exempt status.
*In no way does Fremont College promise or guarantee employment or level of income/wages. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law