Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Terms and Definitions

The terms and definitions below may assist in bringing resolution to some of the complexities of FLSA and how determinations are made.

Terms and Definitions

Consists of Work in the Following Areas:

  • Administration and curriculum
  • Examination of quality and methods of instruction
  • Measurement of learning potential and achievement
  • Maintenance of academic and grading standards

As used in the learned or creative professional exemption, this term includes job tasks and skills that are:

  • Predominantly intellectual
  • Requires discretion and judgment to analyze
  • Interpret or make deductions from a varying facts or circumstances

Please note that routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work is not considered to require advance or specialized knowledge. However applying a higher level knowledge to design or modify a research protocol would.

What it is

  • Compares and evaluates alternative courses of action
  • Independently determines a course of action over matters of significance, free from immediate direction
  • Has delegated authority to make choices and commitments on behalf of the organization

What it is not

  • Following prescribed procedures and/or determining which of several procedures to follow even if they contain or relate to highly technical, scientific, legal, financial or complex information
  • Determine if specific standards have been met even after conclusion
  • Beyond best judgment and discretion even when duties involve confidential information regarding employee files, donor records, academic disciplinary proceedings, etc.
  • Proposing a decision or recommendation that may be overturned, revised, or approved.

Answering yes to several of the questions below, strengthens the outcome of a position holding discretion and independent job tasks

  • Formulate, affect, interpret, or implement management policies or operating practices.
  • Carry out major assignments in conducting organizational operations.
  • Perform work that affects business operations to a substantial degree even if the employee’s assignments are related to a specific area of the organization
  • Has authority to commit the employer in matters that have significant financial impact.
  • Authority to waive or deviate from established policies or procedures without prior approval.
  • Authority to negotiate and bind the organization to significant commitments
  • Provides expert advice to leadership/management
  • Plans for long/short term strategic objectives
  • Investigates and resolve matters of significance on behalf of leadership/management
  • Represents the organization in handling complaints, arbitrating disputes or resolving grievances

Occupations with recognized professional status.  Examples include law, accounting, theology, teaching, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine, architecture, chemical sciences, pharmacy, engineering and the biological sciences.

Refers to managing processes, projects, etc. in addition to the supervisory responsibility of employees.  Duties may include:

  • Hiring and training staff
  • Regularly directing work, assigning job duties and distribution of work assignments
  • Establishing and modifying work schedules based upon unit needs
  • Requesting pay adjustments, promotions, etc.
  • Evaluating performance
  • Handling complaints, grievances
  • Recommending disciplinary action for performance and conduct issues
  • Organizing, planning, coaching, and training
  • Determines best practices, methods and techniques to be used.
  • Handling work environment concerns with the appropriate office.

The level of importance or consequence to the organization for the work performed.  The wider the scope of impact of an action or decision, the more likely an issue is a significant matter.

Factors considered in determining whether a worker’s recommendation regarding hiring and firing.  These are not intended for the occasional suggestion, rather for an employee whose job duties require making such recommendations/requests and if they are followed by leadership.

One that is typically close to or exceeds 50% of an individual’s overall job responsibilities.

Specialized academic training, often with a particular academic degree, is usually a prerequisite for performing the work or those that have substantially the same knowledge level, perform the same work as a degreed professional.  It does not include occupations that are performed with general knowledge acquired by an academic degree in any field; or knowledge acquired through an intern, apprentice or training in the performance of routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical processes.

Typically recognized fields include:

Performing Arts

  • Music performers
  • Composing and/or conducting
  • Acting  

Language Arts

  • Novelists
  • Short-story writers or essay writers
  • Play Writes
  • Screen play Authors

Graphic Arts

  • Painters
  • Photographers
  • Cartoonists

Please note that journalists working for newspapers, TV, magazines or other media outlets are generally not considered in this category unless they perform on-air in radio or television; conduct interviews; analyze or interpret public events or write editorials, opinion columns or commentary.