Professional Employees

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) creates a special exemption for professional employees. A professional employee is a person who works in a field of specialty that requires advanced education or training. Professional employees must have a substantial degree of freedom related to how they perform their job function. They generally also have some control over the hours they work. If you have questions about a job classification, contact a lawyer for assistance.

Professional employees include:

  • Dentists
  • Engineers
  • Scientists
  • Professors
  • Teachers
  • Physicians
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants

Classification of Professional Employees

To be classified as a professional employee, the employee must be a salaried employee earning a minimum of $455 per week; however, these salary requirements do not apply to bona fide teachers, lawyers, or doctors.

Generally, specialized academic training is a requirement for anyone classified as a professional employee. In most instances, prospective employees are required to have a certain academic degree in order to be considered for the position. In some circumstances, applicants who have obtained substantially similar knowledge and experience through other employment experiences may be considered for a job as a professional employee.

In some career fields, it is typical for workers to gain experience and knowledge through years of work experience. These employees are not exempt under the FLSA unless they meet the criteria for exemption as an independent contractor, salaried employee, highly compensated employee, administrative employee, or executive employee.

Creative Professional Employees

The FLSA also creates an exemption for creative professional employees. To qualify as a creative professional, the employee must meet the same salary requirements as a professional employee. The creative professional’s job function must require imagination, creativity, talent, or originality in a field of art or creativity. Recognized fields of artistic and creative endeavors include acting, graphic arts, music, and writing. Although the exemption applies to any job that meets the requirements under the FLSA, creative professional employees include:

  • Musicians
  • Actors
  • Composers
  • Writers
  • Cartoonists
  • Novelists
  • Essayists

Journalists are generally not exempt under the creative professional exemption unless they provide a unique analysis or interpretation of public information.

Contact Parks, Chesin & Walbert for More Information

At Parks, Chesin & Walbert, our team of employment lawyers are experienced advocates with thorough knowledge about the provisions of the FLSA and other employment laws. Because employment law involves an intersection of state and federal law, resolving legal disputes can be complex. Parks, Chesin & Walbert works with employers and employees on a case-by-case basis to evaluate FLSA compliance and resolve employment law disputes. Call Parks, Chesin & Walbert at 404-873-8048 for counsel and advice on your labor and employment issue.

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