Monday, November 27, 2017

The Supreme Court Denies Certiorari of Ninth Circuit Ruling that Mortgage Underwriters are Non-Exempt Employees

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States summarily denied certiorari to an appeal from a recent Ninth Circuit decision, McKeen-Chaplin v. Provident Savings Bank, 862 F.3d 847 (9th Cir. Jul. 5, 2017), which held that mortgage underwriters did not qualify as exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling in McKeen-Chaplin, clarifies the legal analysis for evaluating whether an employer has met the second prong of the administrative-exemption test. The administrative-exemption test requires administrative employees to have as their primary duty “the performance of office or non-manual work related to the management or general operations of the employer or the employer’s customers.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.200. Notably, the Ninth Circuit utilized the “administrative / production dichotomy” to determine whether the employer met the second prong of the FLSA’s administrative exemption. Under the administrative / production dichotomy framework, “whether [an employee’s] primary duty goes to the heart of internal administration—rather than marketplace offerings” is the crucial test. Thus, if an employee’s duties focus on the core business of a company, e.g., an underwriter working on a bank’s mortgage products, then the employee is not administratively exempt, and is entitled to overtime. Bryan Schwartz Law previously blogged about McKeen-Chaplin here.

In arriving at its decision, the Ninth Circuit relied heavily upon reasoning in Davis. v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., 587 F.3d 529 (2nd Cir. 2009) cert. denied sub nom., a Second Circuit ruling which applied the administrative-production dichotomy to find mortgage loan underwriters were production employees. Bryan Schwartz Law previously blogged about Davis, here.

Employees who produce a company’s core products or services, as opposed to performing “work related to the management or general operations of the employer,” should not be denied overtime based on the FLSA’s administrative exemption.

If you believe your employer has incorrectly classified you as an exempt administrative employee and deprived you of overtime pay even though you produce the core goods or services of your employer, then please contact Bryan Schwartz Law.

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