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How to Determine if an Employee Qualifies for the Learned Professional Exemption

Authors: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor, and Allen S. Kinzer, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP

Compared to the executive exemption or the administrative exemption, the learned professional exemption is relatively easy and straightforward to apply. Most lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, architects, pharmacists, teachers, hard scientists, actuaries and theologians will qualify. But that does not mean that employers should simply assume an employee with one of these titles is exempt as a professional. Follow these steps to be sure an employee qualifies for the learned professional exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Note: The US Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed regulations that would, if implemented, raise the minimum salary for exempt learned professional employees to an estimated $970 per week, or $50,440 per year, starting in 2016. This minimum salary level would then be adjusted annually. See Employee Classification > Future Developments.