In Heyen v. Safeway Inc., an advisory jury found that plaintiff Linda Heyen, a former assistant store manager, was improperly classified as exempt due to substantial time she spent checking out customers and performing routine work typically done by hourly employees. Safeway argued that the exempt and non-exempt duties performed concurrently by store managers, such as checking out customers while supervising the front of the store, should be considered exempt, but the court disagreed. Rather, employers must identify each discrete duty, the amount of time spent on that particular duty, and whether the duty is exempt or non-exempt. Where a manager performs a duty that does not entail actual management of the department or supervision of employees, then the employer must assess the reason or purpose for performing the task; if the task helps in supervising employees or contributes to the functioning of the department, then the task may be exempt.
In Heyen, the evidence showed managers performed non-exempt tasks such as cashier duties, stocking shelves and routine bookkeeping because Safeway understaffed hourly workers and had unreasonable store performance expectations that could not be achieved unless managers did non-exempt work. Thus, those duties — and all time spent on them — were non-exempt.