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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fair Labor Standards Act not applicable to personnel employed by an "educational establishment"


Fair Labor Standards Act not applicable to personnel employed by an "educational establishment"
Fernandez v Zoni Language Center, USCA, 2nd Circuit, Docket #16-1689-cv

Zhara Fernandez and certain others [Plaintiffs] were employed as English teachers by the Zoni Language Center. Acting on their own behalf and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs alleged that Zoni was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the New York Labor Law because it failed to pay them the statutory minimum wage for hours worked out of the classroom and the statutory overtime required when Plaintiffs' classroom and out-of-classroom work exceeded 40 hours per week. 

The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Plaintiffs' FLSA claims, holding that Zoni was exempt from the FLSA's mandatory minimum wage and overtime requirements as they were not applicable to teachers working as bona fide professionals. Zoni, said the court, was an "educational establishment" within the meaning of 29 C.F.R. 541.204(b).

Professional employees employed at elementary and secondary schools, institutions of higher education, or other educational institutions are deemed employees excluded from claiming compensation consistent with the mandatory provisions of the FLSA. In addition, for purposes of this exclusion, no distinction is drawn between public and private schools, or between those operated for profit and those that are not for profit.

The professional exclusion applies to employees who have as a primary duty, teaching, tutoring, instructing, or lecturing in the activity of "imparting knowledge and [who] do so in an educational establishment." Accordingly, employers of such personnel are not mandated to pay such employees minimum wages, overtime or similar compensation related rates otherwise required by Federal or New York State law with respect to its non-professional personnel.

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