In turning away an appeal by plaintiff Mabel Kay Thomas, the 6 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Enron, Ohio-based Speedway SuperAmerica LLC had proven Thomas was properly classified an exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and, therefore, not eligible for overtime pay.
The appellate judges upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in favor of the gas station/convenience store company that operates more than 600 locations.
Thomas managed a Speedway SuperAmerica store from July 1998 to August 2003, when the company fired her. She sued, charging among other things that Speedway had violated the FLSA by not paying her for extra hours worked.
Circuit Judge Alice M. Batchelder, in writing for the appellate court, explained that the case turned on whether Thomas had management as her primary duty.
Noting that Thomas typically spent 60% of her time on non-management responsibilities, Batchelder noted that the law still allows for a judicial finding that management was her primary duty depending on an analysis of four factors:
- “the relative importance of the managerial duties as compared with other types of duties;”
- “the frequency with which the employee exercises discretionary powers;”
- “[the employee’s] relative freedom from supervision;” and
- “the relationship between [the employee’s] salary and the wages paid other employees for the kind of nonexempt work performed by [her].”
Batchelder said Spiegel had conducted a “methodical analysis” of the four issues before ruling in the employer’s favor.
“â€¦we consider Thomas’s non-managerial duties on the one hand, which include stocking merchandise, sweeping floors, and cleaning bathrooms. And, on the other hand, we consider Thomas’s managerial duties, which include hiring employees, training employees, and assigning the weekly work schedule,” Batchelder wrote in the opinion.
Batchelder continued: “If Thomas failed to perform her non-managerial duties, her Speedway station would still function, albeit much less effectively. After all, most of us – even if unwillingly – have visited and spent our money at filthy gas stations with sparsely stocked shelves. If, however, Thomas failed to perform her managerial duties, her Speedway station would not function at all because no one else would perform these essential tasks. Surely, a gas station cannot operate if it has not hired any employees, has not scheduled any employees to work, or has not trained its employees on rudimentary procedures such as operating the register.”
Declared Batchelder: “We therefore conclude that Thomas’s managerial duties were much more important to Speedway’s success than her non-managerial duties.”
The appellate ruling is here .