Exemption question

We are having an ongoing discussion regarding two of our accounting staff members that are very similar in their duties and responsibilities. One is a Sr. Project Accountant and the other is a Project Accountant. (we are in the energy business). The question was brought to my attention that theirs roles were very similar and they wanted to know why the Sr. PA is exempt and the PA in non-exempt. I reviewed the job descriptions and interviewed the employees and managers on the duties of the role. When they were completed, the question for me became that they were both in a grey area for Professional Exemptions. I then sent everything to our attorney to review. The response I received was heavily reliant on how much judgment and discretion were used in their daily routines. In trying to make a decision with my boss we are both nervous how you can document your decision with something like judgment and discretion. If we made them both exempt and it ever went to court, how can be prove this? Can anyone help me with my dilemma? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

My other thoughts was making them both non-exempt because of the questionability of this, but then we have to deal with salary levels since the exempt Sr. PA is compensated pretty well and the PA is at an appropriate level for salary even if she didn't receive OT.

Suggestions? Cases to refer to?



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  • Judgment and discretion is the hallmark of FLSA exempt status.  That's not something you document so much as something you establish by practice.  You should speak more with your attorney about whether the way those employees are managed would meen the independent judgment and discretion standard.

    Everybody can be paid on an hourly basis.  The problem you run into converting someone from salary to hourly is that the employee often feels that being salaried is a status symbol.  They will be indignant and unhappy with the change.

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