SCHMIDT v. EAGLE WASTE & RECYCLING (March 22, 2010)

Eagle Waste & Recycling hired Tammy Schmidt as a sales representative. Eagle is in the business of residential and commercial waste removal services. Schmidt spent most of her time outside the office on sales calls. When she was in the office, she managed her sales calls and plans, she worked on marketing and advertising plans for the business, she was responsible for customer service and customer database maintenance, and she ordered parts and authorized repairs. Schmidt was compensated with a base salary and a commission. Schmidt brought an action under the Fair Labor Standards Act for overtime. Eagle filed for summary judgment – Schmidt responded but not in accordance with local rules. When Eagle pointed out the error, Schmidt sought to modify her response but she waited two weeks and did not file her proposed modification with her request. The court denied her request and granted summary judgment to Eagle. Schmidt appeals.

In their opinion, Judges Posner, Flaum, and Sykes affirmed. The Court first addressed the procedural issue. It remarked that it “routinely” affirms district courts’ strict adherence to the local rules regarding summary judgment. Particularly here, where Schmidt did not respond quickly after she became aware of the error, the district court did not abuse its discretion. On the merits, the Court noted that an “outside salesperson” is exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA. An outside salesperson is one whose primary duty is making sales and who is regularly engaged in activity outside the office. Although it is the employer’s burden to prove the exemption and the exemption is narrowly construed against the employer, the Court concluded Schmidt was exempt. She spent the majority of her time outside the office and much of her work at the office was incidental to her outside sales work. Alternatively, the Court concluded that Schmidt was exempt under the FSLA’s combination exemption, which exempts persons who perform a combination of otherwise exempt duties. The majority of Schmidt’s non-sales duties were duties that are exempt under the administrative employee exemption. If she does not qualify as exempt purely on the basis of her sales work, she certainly does on the basis of her combined sales and administrative work.