Applicability of the technical FLSA exemptions can sometimes turn on subtle distinctions, a frustrating proposition for FLSA litigants. A new opinion highlights these subtleties, as, on a motion for reconsideration made ahead of a bench trial, a court reversed its earlier ruling denying summary judgment to defendant bank as to the applicability of the administrative exemption to the bank’s underwriters, and granted summary judgment in defendant’s favor. McKeen-Chaplin v. Provident Sav. Bank, FSB, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106245 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 12, 2015).

In McKeen-Chaplin, the bank urged the Court to reconsider its conclusions regarding the discretion underwriters exercised not only in seeking “exceptions” from loan protocols, but also in electing not to do so, and either move loans forward or reject them without such an application. Wrote the court,: “Provident has shown Plaintiffs’ duty to make decisions about when—and when not—to decline to approve a loan that met the lending criteria, and when to request an exception to the lending criteria, were part of Plaintiffs’ primary duty in performance of their underwriting function.”

Underwriters, like a number of other positions within financial services, continue to be a source of wage-and-hour litigation. McKeen is a positive ruling for employers and provides a roadmap for laying out arguments in favor of exempt status.