To be “administratively” exempt from overtime, in addition to being paid appropriately on a  salary or fee basis, an employee must perform office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of his or her employer, with a primary duty which includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.  A new decision from the Southern District of New York highlights the application of these principles.  Grupke v. Gfk Custom Research N. Am., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9802 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 28, 2015).

Judge Paul Crotty found that Plaintiff Grupke, a Research Manager for defendant market research firm who made recommendations which streamlined a number of Gfk business processes and had roles in vendor management and project cost estimation, performed work related to the operation of defendant Gfk’s business.  The Court concluded that She exercised discretion and independent judgment by “accumulating information, making recommendations to senior management, and implementing the chosen approach,” and the significance of this work was apparent because her “responsibilities encompassed planning, coordination, and administration of Gfk’s main research studies. . . . the core of its business.”

Employers are at times vexed by application of the administrative exemption.  Grupke is a welcome victory for one such employer and others defending applicability of the exemption in New York courts.