MN Agricultural Workers Must be Paid Overtime

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed an order by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry that Daley Farm (Lewiston, MN) must pay overtime premium wages to its agricultural employees.  At issue in this case was whether the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry correctly determined that agricultural workers who are paid on an hourly basis are not exempt from the overtime requirements of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (“MFLSA”). 

Under the MFLSA, employers must pay minimum wages and overtime compensation to all employees unless the employees are specifically exempt under the law.  More specifically, workers must be paid at a premium pay rate of 1-1/2 times their regular rate if they work more than 48 hours in a workweek.  Under Minnesota law however, there is an exemption for certain agricultural workers, excluding from the definition of an employee “any individual employed in agriculture on a farming unit or operation who is paid a salary greater than the individual would be paid if the individual worked 48 hours at the state minimum wage plus 17 hours at 1-1/2 times the state minimum wage per week.”  Minn. Stat. § 177.23, subd. 7(2). 

In the case in front of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Daley Farm argued that its employees meet the statutory exemption because their weekly wages exceeded the threshold set by the statute.  In contrast, the Department of Labor and Industry argued that, in order to fit within the exemption, the agricultural workers must be paid on a salaried—rather than hourly—basis.  The Court held that because “salary is defined by the rules to require a predetermined wage for each workweek” the exemption did not apply to Daley Farm’s employees. 

Agricultural employees in Minnesota who are not being paid overtime for hours worked beyond 48 hours in a workweek should contact the Baillon Thome firm.  Our overtime attorneys can answer questions related to their rights under the MFLSA and help them take action to protect and recover their unpaid wages.