The US Department of Labor recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2008-11. Although Opinion Letters only apply to the exact set of facts and circumstances presented in each case, they are a valuable aid in understanding current interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This Opinion Letter discusses whether Assistant Athletic Instructors (AAIs) qualify as teachers exempt under the FLSA.
The facts are that AAIs “teach proper skills and skill development to student-athletes”; a bachelor’s degree is required although a master’s degree or equivalent experience is preferred. The AAIs spend more than half their time teaching “physical health, team concepts, and safety.” Although they work under a head coach, they also exercise considerable discretion and independent judgment.
The AAIs spend time on activities that don’t include teaching activities, “such as developing effective recruitment strategies, recruiting and following up on prospective students, researching and targeting high schools and athletic camps as sources for potential student-athletes, and visiting high schools and athletic camps to conduct student interviews.” Since they spend more than half their time on teaching activities, however, the non-teaching time is not determinative. Furthermore, the institutions of higher learning where the AAIs work would presumably qualify as educational establishments. Therefore, the AAIs would qualify as exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA.
State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.