The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law which governs payment of overtime and minimum wages. There are however, certain key exemptions to the FLSA which can affect rights employees may have otherwise been entitled to, such as overtime compensation. Peter Mavrick is a Fort Lauderdale labor and employment attorney who has extensive specialized experience dealing with the FLSA and its exemptions. These exemptions classify employees as “exempt” or “nonexempt” regarding their eligibility for overtime compensation. The key distinction between these two classifications is that an exempt employee is not entitled to overtime compensation whereas a nonexempt employee is.
One of the most common exemptions under the FLSA is the “executive exemption,” which was analyzed by the Middle District of Florida in Kirkland-Brown v. Amelia Island Care Ctr., WL 12042847 (M.D. Fla. Jun.13, 2002). In Kirkland-Brown, a residential services coordinator alleged that her employer violated the FLSA since she was not paid overtime compensation. The employee further contended she was nonexempt and was therefore entitled to overtime compensation from her employer. Upon termination of her employment, she filed a lawsuit seeking unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages.
A key issue in Kirkland-Brown was whether the employee was exempt under the FLSA executive exemption. For the employee to be employed in a bona fide executive capacity under the FLSA, the employee must meet four requirements pursuant to 29 C.F.R. §541.100(a): (1) the employee is paid on a salary basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week; (2) the employee has as their primary duty the management of the enterprise or of a customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof; (3) the employee customarily and regularly directs the work of two or more other employees; and (4) the employee has the authority to hire or fire other employees or whose suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees are given particular weight. Only if the employee meets all four criteria will he or she be considered an exempt executive employee. Kirkland-Brown v. Amelia Island Care Ctr., WL 12042847 (M.D. Fla. Jun.13, 2002).
The second criterion pertaining to the employee’s “primary duty” of managing the enterprise is not always clear because courts weigh a variety of factors in their analysis of what exactly is the “primary duty” of the employee. In Kirkland-Brown, the employee contended that she spent more than half of her time at work performing non-management related duties. However, the FLSA does not require that employees allocate a certain percentage of their time during the scope of their employment to performing exempt work. Time is not the sole test for exemption, but rather only a factor that is useful for assessing the primary duty of the employee amongst a mix of other factors. Those other factors include the relative importance of the exempt duties as compared with other types of duties; the amount of time spent performing exempt work; the employee’s relative freedom from direct supervision; and the relationship between the employee’s salary and the wages paid to other employees for the kind of nonexempt work performed by the employee. See 29 C.F.R. §541.700 (defining “primary duty”).
Despite the employee’s efforts to stretch the facts and her contention that she dedicated more than half her time to nonexempt tasks, the Middle District of Florida ruled in favor of the employer. The court determined that her rank in the department, salary in comparison with other lower-ranked employees, responsibility for over 50 employees, along with her recommendations regarding the pay raises and terminations of other employees was significant enough to determine that her primary duty was in fact management related irrespective of the time allocation between exempt and nonexempt work related tasks.
Scenarios frequently arise between the employee and employer pertaining to overtime compensation. Should you find yourself in such a situation, or would like to seek more information to better understand your rights as an employer, please feel free to contact Peter Mavrick a Fort Lauderdale labor and employment lawyer at the Mavrick Law Firm.
The Fort Lauderdale labor and employment attorneys at the Mavrick Law Firm have successfully represented many clients in Florida overtime wage litigation in the Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County areas encompassed by the Third and Fourth District Courts of Appeal, as well as Hillsborough, Sarasota, and other counties encompassed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal. This article does not serve as a substitute for legal advice tailored to a particular situation. Peter T. Mavrick can be reached at: Website: www.mavricklaw.com; Telephone: 954-564-2246; Address: 1620 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Suite 300, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311.