While FLSA exemption litigation is often focused on the “white collar” exemptions, practitioners are fond of noting that the FLSA contains many other exemptions, such as industry-specific exemptions. These include specifically those codified at 29 U.S.C. § 213(b). One such exemption is the exemption for salesmen, mechanics and partsmen codified at 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(10). This exemption excludes from overtime coverage certain employees in those positions working for an enterprise which derives more than 50% of its income from sales of vehicles to end purchasers. Id. § 213(b)(10)(A). In a new challenge to this exemption’s applicability, a New York federal court has ruled that the mechanic plaintiff’s unsupported assertions regarding the applicability of this test to his employer failed to demonstrate a factual dispute as to whether his employer was such an enterprise. Williams v. Skyline Auto. Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74864 (S.D.N.Y. May 30, 2012).
In Williams, plaintiff fit squarely within the definition of “mechanic” as set forth in regulations and case law, thus the only remaining dispute was whether his employer qualified as an auto dealer by being “primarily engaged in the business of selling . . . vehicles . . . to ultimate purchasers.” Plaintiff’s hearsay allegations regarding the nature of defendant’s business and the amount of revenue it derived from streams other than sales of vehicles (namely “automobile leasing, part sales and/or service/mechanical work”), could not rebut defendant’s admissible evidentiary proffer that it derived more than 50% of its income from vehicle sales. Therefore, by the “the plain meaning of the statute and the regulations promulgated under it…the third prong of the mechanic’s exemption,” the covered enterprise prong, was satisfied, and plaintiff was found to be properly classified as exempt from overtime.
The exemptions codified at 29 U.S.C. § 213 remain crucial to the industries to which they apply, such as motion picture theaters and auto dealers. However, they should be applied thoughtfully, following a consultation with counsel and, as always, a review of their applicability under state wage-and-hour laws.