Vision Payroll

March 2, 2010

US Department of Labor Issues and Withdraws Opinion Letter on Exempt Status of Client Service Managers

The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2009-26. 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 had stated that client service managers (CSMs) at an insurance agency were exempt administrative employees. The general qualifications for an exempt administrative employee are an employee:

  1. Compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week . . . ;
  2. Whose primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
  3. Whose primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.

It was assumed for the purposes of this opinion letter that the first qualification was met. Since the work the CSMs performed was similar to work performed by employees “ordinarily considered to meet the duties requirements for the administrative exemption” and since “the CSMs primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance”, the CSMs were considered to have met the “requirements of the administrative exemption and are accordingly exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the FLSA.”

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.

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