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Federal Court Denies Collective Overtime Pay Action to Employee Group Based on Specific Job Duties

By Margaret J. Strange
  • July 20, 2003

A recent ruling by a Connecticut federal court could substantially limit the ability of a group of individuals to pursue a collective action for alleged overtime pay violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut denied the motion of a field claims representative to proceed with his claims as a "collective action." Certifying the action as such would have enabled the plaintiff to expand his lawsuit to include other similarly situated employees.

In so ruling, U. S. District Court Judge Dominic Squatrito cast doubt on whether an FLSA collective action is ever appropriate when liability hinges on an analysis of the job duties performed by a particular group of employees rather than a specific company policy or pay practice.

Claiming they were entitled to unpaid overtime compensation, the plaintiff alleged a collective action on behalf of himself and other similarly situated field claims representatives. He alleged that he and members of his purported class had been incorrectly categorized as exempt under the administrative exemption to the FLSA even though they performed non-exempt duties.

Citing the requirements of the FLSA, the court rejected the plaintiff's attempt to seek relief on behalf of other field claims representatives. The determination of whether an employee meets the administrative exemption requires an "extremely individual and fact-intensive" analysis. Thus, even accepting the plaintiff's claim that he performed non-exempt duties, the court concluded that class certification was not "sensible" because it would require an analysis of each employee's job duties.

Once the individual job duties were identified, the court then would apply the FLSA and its regulations to determine whether each member of the class met the requirements of the exemption. Evaluating the merits of the overtime claim would turn upon evidence of the plaintiffs' day-to-day tasks, and in the absence of a common thread linking each member of the group, the court concluded a collective action was inappropriate. [Mike v. Safeco Ins. Co., No. 3:02 CV 2239 (DJS) (DC CT 2003).]

The Jackson Lewis attorneys who handled this case are available to discuss questions related to the FLSA overtime exemptions generally and FLSA litigation specifically.

©2003 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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