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Florida Labor & Employment Lawyer > Blog > Wage and Hour > Supreme Court Clarifies Salary Basis Test For Overtime; Favorable Decision For Some High Wage Employees

Supreme Court Clarifies Salary Basis Test For Overtime; Favorable Decision For Some High Wage Employees


On February 22nd, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision in the employment law case of Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt. In a somewhat unexpected 6 to 3 ruling the nation’s highest court found that Michael Hewitt, despite his high salary, was not an executive employee and therefore could not be exempted from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In this article, you will find an analysis of the court’s decision.

Case Assessment: Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt

 Background and Facts 

Michael J. Hewitt worked as an employee for Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. As part of his employment, Mr. Hewitt was placed on an offshore oil rig. He managed other employees while offshore. During this time, Mr. Hewitt was paid a “daily rate.” Notably, he was required to work more than 40 hours in a week.

Mr. Hewiit filed an employment law claim on the grounds that he was improperly denied overtime pay under the FLSA. Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. countered by arguing that Mr. Hewitt was appropriately exempted from the overtime requirements of the FLSA because he was a highly compensated employee.

The Legal Issues

 The core legal issue in this case was whether or not the employer had the right to exempt Mr. Hewitt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements. Mr. Hewitt made in excess of $200,000 in annual compensation. Additionally, he supervised other workers. However, he was not an executive level employee at the company. Further, he was paid a daily rate.

 Court Rules in Favor of Employee 

In a 6 to 3 decision that crossed the traditional ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employee. Specifically, the nation’s highest court emphasized that this issue was determined based on the FLSA’s “salary basis” test. The court found that “daily rate workers” do not fall under the salary basis test. That Mr. Hewitt was a highly compensated employee with supervisory responsibilities that were not sufficient to override this consideration. An employee must satisfy all three requirements of the salary basis test to be exempt from the FLSA’s overtime regulations.

 The Implications for Workers Paid a Daily Rate 

A worker who is paid a daily rate is an overtime eligible employee under the FLSA. The Supreme Court’s ruling clarifies an issue that has been in dispute. That an employee is highly compensated and/or has supervisory duties, cannot justify classifying them as an overtime exempt employee for the purposes of federal law if they are paid a daily rate. The salary basis test requires, at minimum, a fixed weekly salary.

Get Help From an Unpaid Overtime Lawyer in Florida 

Employers must comply with the overtime requirements of the FLSA. If you believe that you or your loved one was denied overtime pay in violation of the law, you may have an unpaid overtime claim. Contact a wage and hour attorney in Florida for immediate assistance with your case.

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