A federal jury in Virginia recently concluded that a loan officer was properly classified as an “exempt employee” under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The jury concluded that based on the loan officer’s duties and responsibilities, the employee fell within the “outside sales” exemption of the FLSA, which applies to employees who are (1) primarily engaged in sales, and (2) customarily and regularly engaged in sales or promotional work outside of the employer’s places of business. In the Virginia case, there was no dispute that the loan officer engaged in sales, only whether she was engaged in sales outside of the employer’s place of business. Relying on facts indicating that the loan officer spent several hours each week on outside sales and promotional activities, including attending open houses, meetings sponsored by a local business networking group, one-on-one meetings with real estate agents, and mortgage closings, the jury concluded the employee was properly classified as exempt.
It is imperative for employers to understand that the classification of employees under the FLSA is a fact-intensive analysis. Like the Virginia case, the analysis centers on each particular employee’s actual job responsibilities. Employers should seek experienced legal counsel before treating any of its employees as “exempt.”