DOL Issues Opinion Letters Re: Overtime Exemptions

The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) recently released to the public three December 2008 opinion letters that addressed inquiries regarding FLSA exemption issues.

The first letter (FLSA2008-11) concluded that Assistant Athletic Instructors at an institution of higher education are exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Act as bona fide professionals, since their primary responsibility (occupying more than 50% of their time) is teaching student-athletes.

In the second letter (FLSA2008-17), the DOL concluded that a school district’s Certified Occupational Therapist Assistants (COTAs), who assist occupational therapists in providing therapeutic educational programs for students, are not exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements. The DOL reasoned that (1) the 60-credit certification program required to become a COTA does not qualify as “a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction” under the professional exemption; (2) COTAs specifically do not meet the DOL’s definition of a “registered or certified medical technologist” under the same exemption; and (3) COTAs do not qualify for the administrative exemption for educational institutions because their jobs relate to the “health of . . . students,” and not academic instruction or training.

In the final opinion letter (FLSA2008-19), the DOL stated that store managers who otherwise satisfy the requirements of the Act's executive exemption do not lose that exemption when they participate in a seven-week training program aimed at preparing them for promotion to a similarly exempt area sales manager position. Despite the fact that the managers do not perform exempt work during some of the weeks of training, the DOL emphasized that the training does not change the character of the manager’s job as a whole – their “primary duty” under the executive exemption remains that of an exempt store manager.

This blog entry was authored by Casey Kurtz.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.