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Changing an employee’s duties may require changing his FLSA classification

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

These days, organizations have to do just as much (or more) with fewer employees. That may mean employees’ job duties and responsibilities change frequently. But be aware that such changes could alter the person’s classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—and open you up to an overtime lawsuit.

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.

Also, tell supervisors and managers to update employee job descriptions with each change and forward them to the HR office for approval.

Recent case: Jean Kiehl, a marketing employee for an Ohio health facility, was classified as exempt under the administrative exemption.

After being fired, Kiehl sued, claiming she should have been classified as a nonexempt hourly employee and, thus, entitled to back pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week.

She noted that her duties and responsibilities had changed many times during the past few years. For at least part of that time, Kiehl argued, she should have been classified as hourly.

The court sent the case 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)

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