Court spots the problem: Troubleshooting complex machinery isn’t exempt work — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Court spots the problem: Troubleshooting complex machinery isn’t exempt work

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

With technological advances, just about every job involves using computers or computerized machinery. That doesn’t mean an employee whose job it is to repair such equipment is an exempt computer professional. Fixing things like printers and copiers—even the most technologically advanced ones—is hourly work, making the employee eligible for overtime.

Recent case: Charles worked as a field service engineer for Stratasys, a company that develops, sells and services 3D printers. He worked from his home and traveled to customers to install, repair and service the complex computer-operated, software-driven devices. Stratasys classified field service engineers as exempt.

Charles sued, alleging he was really an hourly worker.

Stratasys argued that since Charles had to figure out what was wrong with the printers and fix them, he was either exempt under the administrative exemption or a combination of administrative and computer professional classifications.

But Charles explained to the court that he really just used guidelines the company provided to determine what was wrong with the equipment, much as any other blue-collar technician might. The court sided with Charles and determined he was entitled to overtime as an hourly employee. (Longlois v. Stratasys, No. 13-CV-3345, DC MN, 2015)

Final note: The court also had harsh words for Stratasys because it didn’t keep track of its field service engineers’ hours worked. That means Charles will have considerable leeway to prove how many hours per week he worked.

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