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Claim for overtime pay sent to jury


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lmallory

By Laura Mallory

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded a claim for overtime pay back to the trial court, as questions of fact existed as to whether the plaintiff-employee met the administrative exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

FLSA
The FLSA requires employers pay their employees overtime of at least one and a half times their regular pay for any hours worked over forty hours in a workweek. However, there are some exemptions for certain employees from eligibility to receive overtime. One of the exemptions is the administrative exemption, which precludes an employee from overtime if they are (1) compensated not less than $455 per week, (2) their primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work which is directly related to the management of general business operations of the employer and (3) the primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

Background
The plaintiff was a salaried employee who worked for the defendant gas and electric company. She was a supervisor and classified by her employer as exempt from overtime pay because she fell within the administrative exemption of the FLSA. The employee retired in 2013 and filed a lawsuit for failing to pay her overtime in violation of the FLSA. The employee and employer dispute what the employee’s primary duties at work were. 

The employer stated the employee was responsible for, among other duties, development and management of daily work plans, assigning and directing employees, providing work direction to construction resources, overseeing work detail, and planning, directing, managing and monitoring programs, schedules and resources. In contrast, the employee described her primary duties as scheduling and dispatching work crews. She claims she did not oversee crews and did not manage operations or the budget. The lower court held that the employee was not exempt from overtime pay under the FLSA because her primary duties did not directly relate to management or the general business operations. Both parties appealed. 

On appeal, neither party disputed the employee made more than $455 per week. The first issue was whether the employee performed non-manual work directly related to the management of general business operations of the employer. The appellate court determined that whether the employee met this requirement was a question of fact that a jury must decide as the employee and the employer described the employee’s primary duties quite differently. 

With regard to whether the employee’s primary duties included the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance, the appellate court held that this requirement was also a question for a jury to decide. As a result, the matter was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

 

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