The former office manager of a Mississippi dealership is not entitled to overtime pay under federal labor law, an appeals court has ruled.
The three-judge panel said Melissa Lott's duties fall under a Fair Labor Standards Act exemption for administrative personnel.
That decision blocks Lott's suit for about $65,000 in overtime pay she claims Howard Wilson Chrys-ler-Plymouth Inc. of Jackson owes for her working more than 40 hours a week during her three years as office manager.
According to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the dealership hired Lott, a certified public accountant, in 1993 at $30,000 a year, regardless of how many hours she worked each week.
Her duties included preparing financial statements and taxes, workers' compensation and payroll returns. She handled reconciliations for Chrysler Financial Corp. and several banks, supervised four employees and made personnel recommendations to the dealer but had no authority to hire or fire, the court said.
She resigned three years later. At that time, her annual salary was $44,000.
A federal judge in Jackson dismissed the overtime lawsuit without trial.
The appeals court agreed, ruling that she was exempt from the overtime law.
'Lott's primary responsibilities consisted of office work directly related to the general business operations of Howard Wilson and requiring the exercise of discretion and independent judgment,' appeals Judge Reynaldo Garza said. 'Notwithstanding the amount of time Lott performed bookkeeping and clerical work, her primary duties directly related to and were important to both Howard Wilson's management policies and its general business operations.'
Dealership attorney Kimberly Turner of Jackson said the ruling clarifies the law about what specific job duties can exempt an administrative employee from overtime requirements.
Lott's lawyer, Carl Hedglin of Jackson, declined to discuss the case, saying, 'The decision speaks for itself.'