Time & Attendance
By Mark Kobata
Sep. 30, 2015
Licensed professionals such as attorneys normally are treated as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The plaintiff in Lola v. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom challenged that notion. The plaintiff, a lawyer licensed in California but residing and working in North Carolina, worked for Skadden as a contract attorney performing document reviews. As a contract attorney, the plaintiff regularly worked more than 40 hours per week without receiving any premium pay for overtime. The plaintiff sued, alleging that Skadden determined which documents to review, how that review should take place, what to look for and other aspects of his performance. Based on these factors, he could not legally be said to have been “practicing law” in a manner sufficient to bring him within the FLSA exemption. Skadden moved to dismiss the complaint contending that, as a licensed attorney, the plaintiff was exempt.
The District Court granted the motion to dismiss. The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 2nd Circuit reversed the dismissaland remanded the matter for further proceedings. The 2nd Circuit found the allegations that his work was so circumscribed that it was “devoid of legal judgment” was sufficient to allow his lawsuit to proceed. It also found that, under North Carolina law, merely being licensed to practice law did not make the plaintiff an exempt professional. Lola v. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, et al. United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Docket No. Docket No. 14-3845-cv (July 23, 2015).
IMPACT: Care must be taken to ensure that employees not only qualify as exempt professionals based on their licensing and skills, but also based on the work they are actually asked to perform.
Mark T. Kobata and Marty Denis are partners in the law firm Barlow, Kobata and Denis, which has offices in Beverly Hills, California, and Chicago. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.
ComplianceMinimum Wage by State in 2023 – All You Need to Know
Summary Twenty-three states and D.C. raised their minimum wage rates in 2023, effective January 1. Thr...
federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance
LegalNew Labor Laws Taking Effect in 2023
The new year is fast approaching, and with its arrival comes a host of new labor laws that will impact ...
labor laws, minimum wage, wage and hour law
LegalWage and Hour Laws in 2022: What Employers Need to Know
Whether a mom-and-pop shop with a handful of employees or a large corporation staffing thousands, compl...
compliance, wage and hour law