LAW OFFICE OF SCOTT MCKAY - Seattle, Washington
Seattle:  (206) 992-5466


    The "Duties Test" under both state and federal law essentially consists of two major components:

A.  The employee’s primary job duty must be to act as a "bona fide" excutive, administrative or professional employee.

        In order to meet the "Duties Test," the employee's actual job duty must be to act as a true "executive," "administrative" or "professional" employee.  

        State and federal law define these terms as follows: 

        1. "Executive" employees are defined as high level workers who manage the overall operations of the business or a customarily recognized department or subdivision.  To meet the legal definition of "executive employee," these employees must also customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two full-time workers.  In addition, their work must concern "significant" management rather than supervising or carrying out day to day buisness operations or or production activities.  Working foremen, team leaders and production supervisors typically do not qualify as "executives."

        2. "Administraive" employees are defined as high level employees who perform office or non-manual work that is concerned with implementing and administrating management policies rather than supervising or carrying out day to day buisness operations or or production activities.  As is true with "executive" employees, working foremen, team leaders and production supervisors generally do not qualify as "administrators."  

        3. "Professional" employees are defined as employees who apply "advanced" knowledge in a recognized field of science or learning.  In general, this requires that such employees have undergone prolonged academic instruction and earned a college degree in an area of science or intellectual learning such as law, medicine, engineering, architecture, teaching, accounting, etc.  Mechanical or technical trades usually do not qualify for exemption.   

        If the employee's job skills have been acquired through training or experience rather than by a prolonged course of intellectual or academic education, then in most instances, the employee will not be exempt from overtime wage requirements.

        Examples of occupations that typically do not qualify for exemption include computer technicians, software and customer support staff, medical technicians, mechanics, estimators, adjustors, licensed practical nurses, bookkeepers, day care instructors, code and compliance inspectors, teaching assistants and paralegals.

        Note:  Special rules apply to artists.  For additional information on this topic, email or telephone the Law Office of Scott McKay at scottjmckay@hotmail.com, (206) 992-5466.

B.  The employee must also have the ability to excercise independent judgment and discretion when making decisions.

        In order to be lawfully claimed as "exempt," an employee must truly have the ability to use his/her own independent judgdment and discretion when making decisions.  

        As a practical matter, this means the employee must not be subject to close supervision or control.  If the employee's decision making authority is subject to close review or approval by supervisors, then the "Duties" test is probably not met.

        Likewise, the "Duties" Test will not be met where the employee’s decisions must strictly conform to rules or standards that have been previously established by the employer.  In such cases the employee is not really excercising independent judgement and discretion, but instead, is simply carrying out or applying the directives of the employer.  An example is a customer service representative whose authority to make adjustments or resolve customer complaints is limited and guided by rules that have been established by the employer.



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