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Two former Dunkin’ Donuts managers’ claims for overtime compensation can proceed to trial because the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA’s) bona fide executive exemption might not apply to them, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
The managers, who worked in Massachusetts, were salaried employees expected to work no fewer than 48 hours over six days each week. Generally, the FLSA requires employers to pay workers one and a half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. However, the act provides exceptions, one of which excludes employees who work in a bona fide executive capacity—that is, those who have management as their “primary duty” and who have authority to hire, fire or otherwise change the employment status of other employees.
Make sure that the managers or executives whom you believe are not entitled to overtime pay are given the necessary autonomy and tools to make management their primary duty within the workplace.
The trial court dismissed the employees’ claims, but they appealed and the 1st Circuit reversed, holding that the employees were entitled to a trial.
The appellate court considered the relative importance of the workers’ management responsibilities compared to their other duties, the amount of time they spent performing exempt work and the managers’ freedom from direct supervision. It found that they devoted a substantial amount of time to working side by side with their subordinates, serving customers and cleaning up. In addition, they had to seek approval before hiring or firing employees. Therefore, a jury should be allowed to determine whether the managers were subject to the bona fide executive exemption, the court held.
Candace D. Embry is an attorney with Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in Philadelphia.
Court Disregards Paramedic’s Genetic Discrimination Claim
The fire department of San Antonio did not violate the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by placing a paramedic on administrative duty after he refused to participate in a wellness program, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. GINA prohibits an employer from taking any adverse action against an employee because of his or her genetic information, which is defined narrowly to include genetic tests of a worker or his or her family members. The medical information requested from the paramedic by the wellness program did not constitute genetic information as defined under the statute.
Employer Lawfully Denied Worker's Accommodation Requests
An employer properly denied a disabled worker’s requests to be assigned permanently to the light-duty job he had temporarily occupied or to be transferred to a different one because the organization had adopted a seniority-based bidding system and had no vacant positions, according to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. An employer is not required to assign a worker to a position as an accommodation if it would violate seniority rules, as long as the company maintains a consistent seniority system.
Threat to Cut Salary Not Retaliation
Simply threatening to cut someone’s pay is not sufficient grounds for a retaliation claim, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. A supervisor tried to establish retaliation after a part owner of the business threatened to cut her salary in half because she hired and supported a transgender employee. The supervisor resigned following the incident. However, the owner lacked the authority to reduce the supervisor’s compensation, and the employee knew that. The retaliation standard requires a reasonable worker to have felt threatened and been dissuaded from complaining of discrimination by the conduct of an employer representative. The supervisor did not meet this standard.
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