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FLSA administrative exemption doesn’t require employee to meet all examples in regulation

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in Human Resources,Overtime Labor Laws

Here’s some good news for employers that classify workers as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) administration exemption: Contrary to what some attorneys have been attempting to argue, employees don’t have to perform all the functions listed in the Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, just one.

Recent case: Ronni Viola worked as a community event coordinator for WellCare Health Plans. Her job involved reaching out to eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and educating them about the health plans her employer provided.

She earned $57,000 per year and controlled her own schedule. She had no set hours, nor did she have to report or keep track of those hours. Most of the time, she worked alone, visiting organizations and facilities where she could educate eligible individuals about the programs.

Viola was terminated, and she sued, alleging that she should have been paid on an hourly basis. She noted that she had always worked more than 40 hours per week.

WellCare argued that Viola met the FLSA’s administrative exemption because her primary duties were directly related to the management or general business operations of the company. DOL regulations include examples such as advertising, marketing, public relations and legal and regulatory compliance.

Viola said she never performed all those functions.

The court said she didn’t have to—one was enough. The court tossed out her case. (Viola v. Comprehensive Health Management, No. 11-10349, 11th Cir., 2011)

Caution: Not tracking hours worked can be dangerous if it turns out the job was not exempt.

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