In a recent lawsuit out of New Mexico, 4 security guards, all classified as executives exempt from coverage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sued, challenging their classification. The security guards hade a mix of managerial and nonmanagerial duties. Whether you are exempt v. non-exempt can be difficult. If you’re considered “non-exempt” you may be entitled to overtime pay, which can significantly impact your take home wages.
If you have questions about your classification, or think you may be improperly classified and not received the wages you are entitled to, it’s important to speak to an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney.
In Maestas et al. v. Day & Zimmerman and SOC, the security guards challenged their classification status. The guards were ranked in a hierarchical, military-style structure, with supervisors carrying such ranks as major, captain, and lieutenant. Only the lowest-level guards were considered non-exempt, while the other positions were all classified as exempt.
On appeal the court determined that while the supervisors should be considered exempt, how the others should be classified is a “factual determination” that should be decided by a jury. For example, duties of the lieutenant included ensuring daily that all posts are staffed properly and filling in if one is empty. The lieutenant was also responsible for visually inspecting and assessing subordinate officers as well as responding to any alarm. Whether these are managerial are not is a factual determination and one best left to the jury.
The court noted, "Because the primary duty determination is a factual one, summary judgment is appropriate only if all reasonable fact finders would conclude that the managerial portions of plaintiffs' jobs are their 'primary duties.'" Here, where many of the guards were not engaged in managerial type positions, it was possible that a jury could find they were misclassified.