Although Blackwater, the “infamous” company that has played a role in the occupation of Iraq, has changed its name to Xe Services LLC, that cannot change the seemingly continuing stream of Fair Labor Standards Act collective actions raining down on the company. In the latest such action, a group of employees are asserting that they were misclassified as exempt and therefore improperly denied overtime pay. These employees are firearms and tactics instructors and the case is entitled Falla et al. v. Xe Services LLC, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The employees also assert that Blackwater misled them into believing that they were not entitled to any overtime pay. The workers nevertheless complained about not receiving overtime, but that did not matter. The Complaint alleges that the Company employed 30 instructors and they were directed to report “8 hours” worked, regardless of the number of hours actually worked. If that were proven to be true, that could be problematic for the Company.
The Complaint sets forth that “WPPS and Navy program instructors, including plaintiffs, were nonexempt employees, eligible for overtime compensation, under the FLSA.” Complicating matters is the fact that Blackwater failed to keep proper records of hours worked, including any additional hours claimed. The Complaint focuses on this alleged deficiency. “ As a result, the instructors' time records, to the extent they exist, fail to document all of the instructors' compensable time.”
The instructors provided military training for police and armed forces at a number of camps throughout the United States.
If the Company paid these men on a salaried basis, there is a chance that the administrative exemption might apply to them. There are US Department of Labor Opinion Letters standing for that proposition; I think the professional exemption would be a reach. If the men were paid hourly, then they were non-exempt because they were not paid on a salaried basis, no matter how unique or important their job duties.