Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an unpublished decision affirming summary judgment in favor of Wynn Las Vegas with respect to overtime claims asserted by a Slot Marketing Executive Host. Dannenbring v. Wynn Las Vegas, LLC, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 5715 (9th Cir. Nev. Mar. 28, 2016).
Concluding that Plaintiff Dannenbring was exempt pursuant to the administrative exemption, the Court agreed with the district court’s conclusion that the undisputed facts regarding the employee’s actual job duties demonstrated her primary duties were administrative in nature and included the exercise of discretion and independent judgment. She promoted the Wynn’s gambling business by cultivating relationships with individual gamblers, promoting specific activities, persuading customers to spend money on gaming products, extending lines of credit and offering complimentary benefits (“comps”). The Court found the employee’s foregoing “marketing” activities were directly related to general business operations of the Wynn’s gambling business consistent with 29 C.F.R. § 541.201(b). Moreover, it also was undisputable that the employee was accountable for the results of her marketing efforts, was able to extend lines of credit up to $25,000, had some managerial responsibilities, and authorized subordinates’ issuance of comps as well, all demonstrating her discretion and judgment with respect to matters of significance. The Court further ruled that the fact that the Wynn had guidelines on the employee’s decision-making did not undercut the satisfaction of this requirement, noting that discretion and independent judgment does not require “unlimited authority and complete absence of review.”
Employers analyzing their work forces ahead of the upcoming revisions to the FLSA’s white collar regulations should continue to take instruction from appellate analyses of exemption questions such as Dannenbring, pending the new proposed final regulations and clarity regarding whether they will modify current duties requirements.