Need FLSA exemptions be narrowly construed?
On April 2, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision on the issue of whether the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) exemption for those selling or servicing automobiles at car dealerships applied to service consultants. Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, Case No. 16-1362 (Apr. 2, 2018). Unless you are a car dealer or work for one, that appears to be a pretty narrow issue, but the Court’s pronouncement may open the door to a less restrictive view of the act’s exemptions generally.
Most of the exemption litigation under the FLSA turns on the so-called “white collar” exemptions, those for executive, administrative or professional employees, but Section 13 of the statute actually has scores of exemptions of different scopes applying to different types of employees and industries. These are generally found in 29 U.S.C. Section 213 (and, in particular, subsections a and b), and include everything from amusement parks to fishing, agriculture, small-town newspapers and maple syrup production. One of these various exemptions applies to “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles, truck, or farm implements, if he is employed by a nonmanufacturing establishment primarily engaged in the business of selling such vehicles or implements to ultimate purchasers.” 29 U.S. C. Section 213(b)(10)(A).