Rigid Standards Apply to Exempt Employees
Byline: ON THE JOB Bureau of Labor & Industries The Register-Guard
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second part of a two-part series.
Question: I asked last week about my sprinkler design and installation business. Specifically, I inquired about Connie, our administrative assistant. As I mentioned, Connie is extraordinary in the way she keeps our office together and anticipates our needs.
Because of Connie's exceptional skills, I was sure we could classify her as exempt from minimum wage and overtime according to the `administrative' exemption under state and federal law. But you advised me that just because she had the word `administrative' in her title, that didn't mean she could automatically become an exempt administrative employee. Rather, she also would have to meet the `duties' test for this exemption, such as regularly assisting an executive or performing work under only general supervision.
But as I mentioned before, Connie is an extremely competent and professional employee. So would it be possible to classify her as an `exempt professional employee'?
Answer: This is yet another situation where a word means something very different in the law than it does otherwise. While it's understandable that you equate `professional' with being dedicated and competent, the wage and hour laws assign a different meaning to the word.
For employees to be `professional' exempt employees, they must primarily perform work in either learned or artistic professions. This includes teachers in educational institutions or highly skilled computer professionals. …