9th Circuit Rules Insurance Adjusters Exempt from Overtime Pay

October 30, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that insurance claims adjusters are exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In its opinion, the appellate court said the Department of Labor (DoL) has considered claims adjusters exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirement for more than 50 years. The court noted that the duties of the claims adjusters as spelled out in a lower court opinion matched almost exactly the duties as outlined by the FLSA that makes them exempt.

In overturning the lower court’s opinion, the appellate court said the lower court’s decision that certain adjusters whose average payout in claims per month was less than $3,000 were non-exempt was “neither workable nor supported by the evidence.” The appellate court said nothing in the FLSA suggests adjusters handling smaller claims should be treated differently, and if the DoL decided they should it could amend the regulation.

Further, the district court had ruled that all claims made under various states’ laws were covered by its opinion on the claims under the FLSA. The appellate court disagreed, and remanded the claims under Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon law back to the lower court for review.

The plaintiffs in the case represented a class of nearly 2,000 claims adjusters for various types of insurance in various states who claimed the Farmers Insurance Exchange improperly classified them as exempt employees and did not pay them overtime they were due.

The opinion in Miller v. Farmers Insurance Exchange is here .