I have written many times on the questionable exempt status of mortgage loan officers, brokers, mortgage originators and other similarly titled employees. I have called attention to the proliferation of class/collective actions against mortgage and banking companies on this issue. Now, the US Department of Labor has issued definitive guidance. Now, except in certain circumstances, mortgage loan officers will not qualify for the administrative exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
If they perform supervisory duties, they may still fall under the executive exemption, but the most commonly urged exemption for them, i.e. administrative, is now foreclosed. The DOL concluded that “mortgage loan officers typically have the primary duty of making sales on behalf of their employer; as such, their primary duty is not directly related to the management or general business operations of their employer or their employer’s customers.” The interpretation continues on to note that mortgage loan officers will not qualify for the administrative exemption because their primary duty is production work, i.e. sales.
The DOL issuance makes specific note that the DOL was not aware of any court holding that such employees have any other duty other than sales work as their primary duty. Significantly, the issuance rescinds two DOL opinion letters that were more favorable to employers on the exemption issue.
This is a momentous development, but it has been “a long time coming” in my opinion. Many courts have held these employees to be non-exempt and many large institutions, such as Bank of American NA, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Washington Mutual have been, hit and hit hard, with these kinds of actions.
My advice is to conduct an internal audit and ensure that these employees (and other salaried) employees classified as exempt in fact are properly classified.
The DOL Interpretation letter is available at www.dol.gov/WHD/opinion/adminIntprtnFLSA.htm