A group of attorneys is investigating claims that H&R Block does not correctly compensate certain IT employees for the overtime hours they work. Some of these IT employees work for companies who are hired by H&R Block as independent contractors. The attorneys are also investigating whether these "independent contractors" and H&R Block are joint employers of the IT employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers pay all workers an overtime premium (time and a half) for all hours worked over 40 in a given workweek. The FLSA, though, also provides exemptions for certain categories of workers, who may be compensated by a salary and not paid an overtime premium. These exemptions are for executives, professionals, administrative employees, and outside sales employees.
Also exempt are computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and software engineers. These exemptions, however, are very specific, and employers must take great care to properly classify those workers they claim are exempt. An employee does not fit into the computer programmer exemption simply by working with a computer, but rather must do particular types of computer work entailing an adequate level of expertise and independence. These attorneys are investigating claims that H&R Block has improperly classified certain computer and IT personnel as "exempt" under the computer programmer exemption when, in fact, the duties they perform do not qualify them for that exemption. Qualified claimants could be entitled to backpay for all overtime premiums improperly withheld for two years or, if the violation was intentional, for three years.