Monday, April 2, 2018

SCOTUS: Service advisors are exempt from FLSA overtime requirements

The Supreme Court issued its opinion in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro today.

Justice Clarence Thomas
Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees "overtime" (time and a half) for time spent working beyond 40 hours in a workweek. There are tons of exceptions, including one for "any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles.”

Justice Thomas wrote that a "service advisor is obviously a 'salesman'" because (s)he sells goods or services. Service advisors also primarily service cars because:
They “mee[t] customers; liste[n] to their concerns about their cars; sugges[t] repair and maintenance services; sel[l] new accessories or replacement parts; recor[d] service orders; follo[w] up with customers as the services are performed (for instance, if new problems are discovered); and explai[n] the repair and maintenance work when customers return for their vehicles.”
Sure, they're not physically repairing the car, but they're still an integral part of the servicing process.

Justice Ginsburg, writing on behalf of the "liberal bloc" of four Justices, dissented.

If you like language debates, there's some interesting discussion about whether the exception covers a "salesman . . . primarily engaged in . . . servicing automobiles" or whether the distributive canon requires reading the exception to "match[] 'salesman' with 'selling' and 'partsma[n] [and] mechanic' with 'servicing.'"