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District of Kansas Finds Airplane Mechanics Eligible for Overtime

On August 10, 2010, United States District Court Judge Monti Belot found that Airplane Mechanics did not meet the Professional Exemption, and were entitled to receive overtime compensation under federal law. In June, 2009, David Dressler filed a lawsuit individually, and on behalf of similarly situated individuals against his former employer, Kansas Copters and Wings, Inc., alleging in part that his former employer failed to properly compensate him under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Defendant contended that Plaintiff was exempt from overtime pursuant to the Professional Exemption, which requires 1) that the employee be paid a bona fide salary of at least $455.00 per week; and 2) that the employee's primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. This primary duty test includes three elements: (1) The employee must perform work requiring advanced knowledge; (2) The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and (3) The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. Dressler v. Kansas Copters and Wings, Inc., 2010 WL 3168358 at *3 (D.Kan.,2010).

In ruling in favor of the Plaintiff, the Court determined that while Plaintiff was involved in some job training, his work was not predominantly intellectual in character, and thus his job duties failed to satisfy the learned professional exemption. The Court further found that Plaintiff's job did not fall into the traditional professions listed in the regulation, including law, medicine, accounting, engineering, architecture, sciences, pharmacy and other similar occupations. Finally, the Court found that the Plaintiff's job training did not rise to the level associated with the learned professional exemption.

The parties conducted a trial in front of Judge Belot, and on August 10, the Court found in favor of the Plaintiffs, and awarded the Plaintiff back wages and attorneys' fees.

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