These days, organizations have to do just as much (or more) with fewer employees. That may mean employees’ job duties and responsibilities will change frequently. But be aware that such changes could alter an employee’s classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (
That’s why every time job duties and responsibilities are modified, someone needs to determine whether the employee is exempt from overtime or is a nonexempt hourly employee. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the unpleasant situation that the following Ohio employer now faces.
Recent case: Jean Kiehl worked in sales promotion and marketing for the University Hospitals Health System. She was classified as exempt under the administrative exemption based on her marketing duties.
When Kiehl began to have trouble with a supervisor, she was fired.
That’s when she sued, alleging that she should have been classified as a nonexempt hourly employee and, thus, was entitled to back pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week.
She pointed out that her duties and responsibilities had changed many times during the past few years and argued that, for at least part of the time, she should have been classified as hourly.
The court said the case can go to trial. The employer will have to explain its classification at each point that Kiehl’s duties changed. (Kiehl v. University Hospitals Health System—Heather Hill, No. 1:08-CV-763, ND OH, 2009)
Final note: Tell supervisors and managers to update employee job descriptions with each change and forward them to the HR office for approval.
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