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Florida Exempt Employee Update

Posted by Tamara

Florida employers may need to take a closer look at the duties of an exempt administrator to ensure the employee meets the guidelines for exempt status. Employees in Florida should be aware, too, of exact definition and duties of a salaried position that is classified as exempt.

Being classified as exempt means the salaried worker is not entitled to overtime pay. That means that a salaried exempt employee gets paid the same salary whether they work 35 hours, or 40 hours or 60 hours a week.

The U.S. Department of Labor has been taking a closer look at the qualifications for salaried exempt status and is interpreting the regulations in a much stricter sense. Two particular occupations being studied are outside salespeople and administrators.

This stricter view of the regulations is expected to get worse. The Department of Labor has a backlog of opinion letters. When a Wage and Hour administrator is confirmed the backlog will be signed and will carry the full force of the law. According to Winston & Strawn’s Gregory Jacob, the courts must defer to the DOL opinion letters, unless they are “arbitrary and capricious”.

A recent example of one of these opinion letters arose in litigation with Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp. According to the DOL, pharmaceutical reps do not meet the FLSA standards for exempt employees as outside salespersons or as exempt administrators. The reps in the Novartis case are not legally allowed to sell or to take an order for the medication. They work with little direct supervision but implement company policy on nearly every aspect of the job. This rules them out as outside salespeople.

Though the pharmaceutical reps schedule their own time and appointments, the DOL ruled that they do not qualify as exempt administrators, either. To qualify for that classification, they would have to regularly exercise independent judgment on significant matters, which the reps do not do. They are coached on the sales presentations to present and the drugs to push, although each rep is allowed to schedule his or her own time.

It is likely that the DOL may further narrow the definition of exempt administrator in the future.



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