The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2009-9. 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). Because the letter was apparently never mailed after it was signed, the DOL under new Secretary Hilda L. Solis has decided to withdraw the letter for further consideration. Therefore, this letter may not be relied upon as a statement of agency policy. It is possible that a different conclusion may be reached when the Opinion Letter is reissued.
In this Opinion Letter, the DOL ruled that civilian helicopter pilots employed by the Division of State Police do not qualify as exempt employees under the FLSA. The pilots are not executive employees since “their primary duty is not managing the department or subdivision in which they are employed.” They are not administrative employees since piloting a helicopter is not “office or non-manual” work. The DOL has long held that pilots do not qualify under learned professional exemption since their primary duty does not have any “advanced knowledge that must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.”
State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. The DOL may come to a different conclusion when it reissues the Opinion Letter after further consideration. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.