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Northern District of Illinois Finds That Target Store Investigator Meets the Administrative Exemption in Mullins v. Target Corporation

As this blog has discussed previously, while the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employees be paid 1.5 times their hourly wage for every hour worked over eight per day or 40 per week, not every employee receives these benefits. Instead, many employees fall into one of the FLSA “exemptions.” Employees who fit the characteristics of an “executive,” “administrative,” or “professional” employee are considered exempt employees. The criteria for determining whether an employee is exempt considers the salary level ($23,600 and above is exempt) and the types of duties the employee performs. For example, an “executive” employee might plan the work and hire other employees, while an “administrative” employee may do office work related to general business operations. A professional has specialized education and skills (like a lawyer or physician). Contact an Illinois overtime attorney if you believe that you have been wrongly denied overtime pay and want to find out whether you meet an exemption.

In Mullins v. Target Corporation, Plaintiff Christine Mullins sued her employer, Defendant Target Corporation, for unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA and Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL). Plaintiff worked for the defendant as Asset Protection Team Leader and was later promoted to Investigator. Plaintiff’s job was to identify and conduct investigations of fraud and theft related to Target’s business at several stores in southern Chicagoland and northern Indiana. This involved analyzing all of the data at each store and pulling out items that plaintiff believed could be a case. Plaintiff admitted that her first duty was to “analyze all of the information” and “evaluate potential strategies for approaching the investigation,” and “come up with a recommendation” to present to her supervisor, the Investigations Team Leader. Plaintiff was the lead investigator in several complex cases, including one where the defendant recovered $1.2 million in merchandise from a criminal warehouse. Nonetheless, plaintiff argued that she did not fit into one of the FLSA exemptions to receiving overtime pay.

Judge John Grady of the Northern District of Illinois disagreed. He looked at the requirements for the administrative exemption and found that the plaintiff met them. First he found that plaintiff’s earnings exceeded the minimum of $455 per week. Second, he looked at whether plaintiff’s primary duty was to perform office or non-manual work “directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers.” Judge Grady found that plaintiff’s job tasks fit the description of “perform[ing] work directly related to assisting with the running or servicing of the business” required of the administrative exemption. Finally, Judge Grady found that plaintiff exercised discretion and independent judgment through her work. Therefore, he found that plaintiff was an administrative employee and exempt from receiving overtime wages. Per the defendant’s wishes, Judge Grady dismissed the case.

The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips. We have offices conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois. Contact a North Chicago wage and hour lawyer at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today at 312-869-4095.