826 F.3d 758 (4th Cir. 2016), 14-2308, Morrison v. County of Fairfax, VA
|Citation:||826 F.3d 758|
|Opinion Judge:||PAMELA HARRIS, Circuit Judge:|
|Party Name:||GERARD MORRISON; CHRISTOPHER THOMPSON; ELTON POLEN, JR.; CALVIN ALEXANDER; MICHAEL ALLEN; ROCCO ALVARO; THOMAS ARNOLD; WILLIAM ATWELL; ROBERT BANASIK; TIMOTHY BARB; TODD BARB; MATHEW ARNHART; MERVIN BARRERA; OSCAR BEASLEY; WILLIAM BEST, JR.; BILL BETZ; DANIEL BORDEN, JR.; EDWARD BOWMAN; FRED BRANDELL; DONALD BRASFIELD; CHRISTOPHER BROWN; JON BR...|
|Attorney:||Molly A. Elkin, WOODLEY & MCGILLIVARY, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellants. Sona Rewari, HUNTON & WILLIAMS LLP, McLean, Virginia, for Appellee. Sarah Kay Marcus, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae. Evangeline C. Paschal, HUNTON & WILLIAMS LLP, Washington, D.C...|
|Judge Panel:||Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, and THACKER and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||June 21, 2016|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit|
Plaintiffs, current and former Fairfax County fire captains, filed suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201-219, alleging that they are entitled to overtime pay. The court held that plaintiffs do not fall within the FLSA's exception for certain executive and administrative employees whose primary job duties are management-related. In this case, the County has not submitted... (see full summary)
Argued January 27, 2016.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria. (1:14-cv-00005-CMH-JFA). Claude M. Hilton, Senior District Judge.
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
Molly A. Elkin, WOODLEY & MCGILLIVARY, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellants.
Sona Rewari, HUNTON & WILLIAMS LLP, McLean, Virginia, for Appellee.
Sarah Kay Marcus, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae.
Evangeline C. Paschal, HUNTON & WILLIAMS LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellee.
M. Patricia Smith, Solicitor of Labor, Jennifer S. Brand, Associate Solicitor, Paul L. Frieden, Counsel for Appellate Litigation, Office of the Solicitor, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae.
Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, and THACKER and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.
PAMELA HARRIS, Circuit Judge:
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), employees who work overtime generally are entitled to overtime pay. There is an exception -- like all FLSA exceptions, narrowly construed -- for certain " executive" and " administrative" employees whose primary job duties are management-related. The question in this case is whether the fire captains of Fairfax County, Virginia, firefighters who serve as first responders to fires and other emergencies, fall within that exception so that they are not entitled to overtime compensation.
The district court held that all of the current and former Fairfax County fire captains bringing this suit are exempt executives, and entered summary judgment for Fairfax County. On appeal, the County takes a different approach, arguing that some of the Captains are exempt executives while others are exempt administrators. We conclude that on this record, no reasonable jury could find by the requisite clear and convincing evidence that any of the Captains is exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirement. Accordingly, we reverse the district court's judgment and remand with instructions to enter summary judgment for the Captains.
We begin by setting out the statutory and regulatory scheme that governs this case. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § § 201-219, is " remedial and humanitarian in purpose" reflecting an intent by Congress to protect broadly the " rights of those who toil." Tennessee Coal, Iron & R.R. v. Muscoda Local No. 123, 321 U.S. 590, 597, 64 S.Ct. 698, 88 L.Ed. 949 (1944); Purdham v. Fairfax Cty. Sch. Bd., 637 F.3d 421, 427 (4th Cir. 2011). Consistent with that purpose, courts are to construe the FLSA liberally, " recognizing that broad coverage is essential" to accomplish the statute's goals. Tony & Susan Alamo Found. v. Sec'y of Labor, 471 U.S. 290, 296, 105 S.Ct. 1953, 85 L.Ed.2d 278 (1985); see Purdham, 637 F.3d at 427 (" [T]he Supreme Court has cautioned that the FLSA 'must not be interpreted or applied in a narrow, grudging manner.'" (quoting Tennessee Coal, 321 U.S. at 597)).
Among the protections the FLSA provides employees is overtime pay, or the right to be paid at time and a half for work above the statutory limit, generally 40 hours per week. See 29 U.S.C. § 207. There are, however, exemptions from this requirement, including the so-called " white collar" exemption for workers " employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity." 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1). As we have recognized, FLSA exemptions, including this one, " are to be 'narrowly construed against the employers seeking to assert them,'" and applied only in instances " plainly and unmistakably within the exemptions' terms and spirit." Desmond v. PNGI Charles Town Gaming, L.L.C., 564 F.3d 688, 692 (4th Cir. 2009) (alterations omitted) (quoting Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, Inc., 361 U.S. 388, 392, 80 S.Ct. 453, 4 L.Ed.2d 393 (1960)).
The Department of Labor (" DOL" ) has promulgated regulations interpreting the FLSA's exemptions for executive and administrative employees, the two categories
at issue in this case. Under the DOL regulations, an " employee employed in a bona fide executive capacity" is one who earns at least $455 per week, has authority over hiring and firing,1 routinely supervises at least two other employees,2 and -- most relevant here -- whose " primary duty is management of the enterprise in which the employee is employed." 29 C.F.R. § 541.100. The administrative exemption similarly turns on a management-related primary duty: An " employee employed in a bona fide administrative capacity" is one who, in addition to earning at least $455 per week and exercising discretion on significant matters,3 has as a " primary duty" 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." Id. § 541.200.
In 2004, DOL proposed changes to its " Part 541" regulations governing the white collar exemptions, generating concerns that first responders and manual laborers would become exempt employees and lose their right to overtime pay. See U.S. Dep't of Labor, Wage & Hour Div., Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees, 69 Fed.Reg. 22,122, 22,129 (Apr. 23, 2004) (the " Preamble" ). In response, DOL promulgated a new regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 541.3, clarifying the scope of the exemptions as applied to blue collar workers and first responders. Preamble at 22,128-29.
Subsection (a) of the new regulation provides that the Part 541 exemptions " do not apply to manual laborers or other 'blue collar' workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy." 29 C.F.R. § 541.3(a). Subsection (b) is the " first responder regulation," with potential bearing on this case. Subsection (b) provides in its first part that the Part 541 exemptions " do not apply to . . . fire...
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