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The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) establishes an employer’s obligations regarding the payment of overtime and minimum wages. The FLSA also contains various exemptions under which employees may not be entitled to overtime wages. One of these exemptions is the administrative exemption. Peter Mavrick is a Fort Lauderdale employment lawyer who has extensive experience dealing with the FLSA and its exemptions, including the administrative exemption.

There are several requirements that must be met for an employee to be exempt under the administrative exemption. To be employed in a bona fide “administrative capacity,” an employee must: (1) meet the compensation form and amount requirements; (2) have the primary duty of performing office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and (3) have a primary duty that includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. The general definition of “primary duty” is found at 29 C.F.R. § 541.103: “In the ordinary case it may be taken as a good rule of thumb that primary duty means a major part, or over 50%, of the employee’s time.”

In Saver v. Hyatt Corp., 407 So. 2d 228, 229 (Fla. 2d DCA 1981), Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals was confronted with the issue of determining whether an employee was performing office or non-manual work relating to the management of the employer’s business. In Saver, the employee was an assistant chief engineer who wore a uniform and spent most his time doing physical repair work with tools. Although, the administrative exemption was primarily intended for white collar employees, it does not completely prohibit performance of manual work by an administrative employee.

Employers often attempt to use the FLSA’s exemptions to lawfully avoid payment of overtime wages. Courts place the burden on the employer to show that the employee meets the requirements for the exemption. The appellate court in Saver reversed the trial court’s decision that the employee was administratively exempt. The appellate court concluded that the employee was not administratively exempt because his primary duty consisted of manual labor relating to the management and operation of the employer’s business and spent approximately seventy-five percent of his time to performing such duties.

If an employee performs so much manual work that he cannot reasonably be viewed as a white-collar employee, it is unlikely he will qualify as an exempt administrative employee. The employee in Saver spent approximately seventy-five percent of his time working with tools. Pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 541.2, employees who spend most of their time using tools, instruments, machines, or other equipment, or in performing repetitive operations with their hands, no matter how much skill is required, would not be bona fide administrative employees.

The existence of an FLSA overtime wage exemption is a mixed question of fact and law. If you are currently involved in an overtime wage lawsuit, or have any questions concerning the FLSA and its exemptions, contact Fort Lauderdale employment attorney Peter Mavrick.

The Fort Lauderdale labor and employment litigation 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:; Telephone: 954-564-2246; Address: 1620 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Suite 300, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311.

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