Ignore job titles; manager doesn’t spell ‘exempt’

Don’t expect a job title to help you, or a court, determine an employee’s exempt or nonexempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A manager in name only doesn’t make an employee exempt.

That’s why you must consider employee titles with care. Take into account their duties and responsibilities, plus the extent to which they differ from nonexempt employees under their direction. Be especially wary of “assistant” titles, such

as assistant manager or assistant supervisor. If these employees don’t have

true supervisory responsibility over two or more full-time workers, you likely shouldn’t classify them as exempt.

Recent case: A gas station “manager in charge” was paid a salary, received benefits and classified as an exempt employee. He handled customer complaints and basic administrative jobs like scheduling and training. But he had little author?ity over hiring and firing, giving raises or setting pay. And 95 percent of the time, he performed the same tasks as the station’s car-wash attendants.

A district court found that the gas station misclassified this “manager” and owed him overtime pay. A federal appeals court agreed. Court’s reasoning: The manager wasn’t an “executive” under FLSA rules because his management duties were slim at best. He supervised only three part-time workers and never more than one person per shift. (Jackson v. Go-Tane Services, No. 02-1468, 7th Cir., 2003)

FLSA: Short test for executive exemption

If an employee earns more than $250 a week, you can use this short test to determine if he qualifies for the executive exemption from overtime pay. The worker’s main duties must:
3 Primarily involve managing a business, department or division.
3 Include managing two or more full-time employees.
3 Include authority to make recommendations on other workers’ employment status, such as hiring and firing.
3 Require regular independent judgment.
3 Devote no more than 20 percent of his time to nonmanagement duties (40 percent in retail and service businesses