SCHAEFER-LaROSE v. ELI LILLY & CO.
679 F.3d 560 (2012)
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Argued October 18, 2011.
Prior to the damages trial, Abbott filed a "Motion for Judgment as to Willfulness," contending that any FLSA classification error had not been shown to be willful. Abbott R.208. The district court agreed. It found that Abbott's interpretation of the FLSA was reasonable and that no evidence demonstrated that Abbott intentionally had misclassified the employees to avoid overtime liability. Because the statute of limitations for non-willful violations of the FLSA is two, not three years, see 29 U.S.C. § 255(a), the court's order reduced the number of eligible plaintiffs by nineteen. The parties stipulated to damages in the amount of $3.5 million, and judgment was entered for the remaining fifty-seven eligible plaintiffs.IIANALYSIS
A. Standard of Review
We review a district court's entry of summary judgment de novo, taking the facts and all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.19 Musch v. Domtar Indus., Inc., 587 F.3d 857, 859 (7th Cir.2009). The burden is on the employer to establish that an employee is covered by the exemption. Corning Glass Works v. Brennan, 417 U.S. 188, 196-97, 94 S.Ct. 2223, 41 L.Ed.2d 1 (1974). As a remedial statute, the exemptions are narrowly drawn against the employers, Johnson v. Hix Wrecker Serv., Inc., 651 F.3d 658, 660 (7th Cir.2011), and "limited to those establishments plainly and unmistakably within their terms and spirit," Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, Inc., 361 U.S. 388, 392, 80 S.Ct. 453, 4 L.Ed.2d 393 (1960). This approach ensures that we remain faithful to the plain wording of the statutory language as a whole and, consequently, to the intent of Congress. Yi v. Sterling Collision
Ctrs., Inc., 480 F.3d 505, 508 (7th Cir.2007).
B. The FLSA and Accompanying Department of Labor Regulations
Under the FLSA, employees are entitled to overtime pay (i.e., one and one-half times the regular rate) for any hours worked in excess of forty hours per week, unless they come within one of the various exemptions set forth in the Act. 29 U.S.C. §§ 207, 213. Under the statute's express delegation of rule-making authority, the Secretary has issued, after notice-and-comment procedures, detailed regulations that define each of the exemptions in § 213(a)(1). See 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1) (providing authority); Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees, 69 Fed.Reg. 22,122, 22,124 (Apr. 23, 2004) (acknowledging that the regulations were issued pursuant to statutory authority); see also Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 551 U.S. 158, 165-68, 127 S.Ct. 2339, 168 L.Ed.2d 54 (2007) (explaining the statutory and regulatory scheme); Haywood v. N. Am. Van Lines, Inc., 121 F.3d 1066, 1069 (7th Cir.1997) (discussing the regulations as having "the force and effect of law" (quotation marks omitted)).