This space has described challenges to compensation practices of municipalities under the FLSA, including last year’s unsuccessful claim for overtime pay brought by the former Treasurer of the Village of Northport, Long Island, which was rejected by Judge Joseph Bianco on the basis that the plaintiff qualified for the administrative exemption. Judge Susan Bucklew of the Middle District of Florida recently reached a similar conclusion, applying the administrative exemption to a “management analyst” who reported directly to the City Manager for the City of Brooksville, Florida. Griffin-Moore v. City of Brooksville, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29286 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 5, 2013).
As is common in litigation over the administrative exemption, Plaintiff Griffin-Moore alleged that she simply worked as a “helper on specified projects” under the close direction and supervision of the City Manager, and accordingly did not possess the requisite independent judgment and discretion required for exempt status. The Court rejected that assertion, noting significant work projects in which plaintiff had exercised discretion and autonomy: including 1) researching regarding how other municipalities utilized their resources and obtained funding; 2) obtaining a “trail head” designation for a park located within City limits (an available designation the City Manager previously had been unaware of); and 3) working to develop the City’s recycling program, which included Plaintiffs’ recommendation of the use of an outside vendor, and meeting with businesses which could assist the recycling process.
Even the most diligent employers cannot avoid potential challenges to the classification of employees under the administrative exemption based on alleged lack of discretion. However, employers should regularly review their classification of employees as exempt under the administrative exemption to ensure those so classified satisfy the legal standard applied in their jurisdiction and line of business.