According to this (and my memory) salary vs. hourly relates to the type of job and duties, and, yes the amount paid. But the numbers you give don't jive with the info from the DOL which is below and indicates that as long as a computer professional is paid over $455 per week ($23,660 annually) they are an exempt employee with respect to overtime.
"Job titles do not determine exempt status. In order for this exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and compensation must meet all the requirements of the Department’s regulations. The specific requirements for the computer employee exemption are summarized below.
Computer Employee Exemption
To qualify for the computer employee exemption, the following tests must be met:
The employee must be compensated either on a salary or fee basis at a rate not less than $455 per week or, if compensated on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour;
The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below;
The employee’s primary duty must consist of:
1. The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications;
2. The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications;
3. The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or
4. A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills.
I will defer to your knowledge on this since you are an attorney so please explain what appears above to contradict what you are saying.
<-- Currently making around 30k/yr with exempt status. Though my position doesn't usually demand OT, near release (Software QA) I've had to put in anywhere from 5-10 hours unpaid OT those weeks.
I'm not happy about it. But there isn't much I can do right now, I'm fairly confident I'd be let go if I point blank refused to do any OT. I'm unfortunately in a very expendable position at my company.
One of the things about salary vs. hourly is (at least the way I used to treat it as an employer) is that a salary employee could take off in the morning for a doctors appointment and they still received the same pay. Or for actually anything. Not so with hourly. Although a passive aggressive way to equalize the situation, it might make more sense than drawing a line in the sand. You could also try to re-negotiate your "salary" to take into account the extra work.
Unfortunately, if I'm not at work anytime between 8AM-5PM, it's going to go down as either sick or vacation/holiday. No free time around here.
But I understand this isn't the norm, I know my company is in the extreme bad side of this debate.