The Ninth Circuit recently ruled that whether a staffing coordinator met the administrative exemption from federal overtime requirements is a factual issue which must be decided at trial. The Ninth Circuit expressly found that the district court erred in determining that Jennifer Quintilani’s claim for overtime failed as a matter of law. To meet the administrative exemption, an employee must meet the following criteria:
(i) He or she must be “compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week;
(ii) His or her “primary duty [must be] the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers;” and
(iii) His or her “primary duty [must] include the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.
The district court held that the staffing coordinator position met all three prongs of the test. However, in reversing the district court, the Ninth Circuit held that trial issues of fact remained, including Plaintiff’s ability to discipline employees and set pay rates. Testimony by management indicated that staffing coordinators were not authorized to discipline staff and that they were instead limited to counseling staff. Moreover, independent from the authority of staffing coordinators, management previously set billing rates. The independent discretion of staffing coordinators to set billing rates continued to be at issue. The aftermath is that employers must more closely assess the extent of discretion and independent judgment exercised by employees, who are classified as exempt.
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