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In Verkuilen v. MediaBank LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that an account manager for a company that provides computer software to advertising agencies qualified for the administrative exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act and was therefore exempt from overtime.
The plaintiff in this case worked as an account manager for MediaBank LLC. In this position, she acted as a “bridge” between the software developers at MediaBank and its customers. As account manager, the plaintiff was responsible for determining the customer’s needs, relaying those needs to the software developers in order to facilitate the customization of the software, and helping the customer use the customized software.
In affirming the lower court’s decision in favor of the employer, the Seventh Circuit rejected the plaintiff’s claims that her primary duty was not “the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer of the employer’s customers,” specifically noting that the Department of Labor’s regulations provide that an employee’s work may be directly related to a “customer’s business,” thus satisfying the primary duty requirement.
Indeed, the court noted that the plaintiff is “a picture perfect example of a worker for whom the Act’s overtime provision is not intended” because she performed duties such as serving as the intermediary between employees of advertising agencies and the software developers at MediaBank, training staff in the use of software, answering questions from customers, and showing the customer how to implement those answers in MediaBank software.
In summary, the plaintiff’s primary duty was to identify customers’ needs, translate them into specifications to be implemented by the developers, and assist the customers in implementing the solutions. The court found that these tasks constituted work exempt from the FLSA overtime provisions pursuant to the administrative exemption.
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