February 4, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 35

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February 03, 2023

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North Carolina Judge Upholds Employer Classification of Employee as Exempt Computer Professional

The rapidly evolving world of information technology can give rise to disputes regarding the applicability of the FLSA’s 20+ year-old exemption for “computer professionals.”  A new decision reinforces that individuals whose job responsibilities require them to maintain large networks qualify for the exemption.  Campbell v. Kannapolis City Schs. Bd. of Educ., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133318 (M.D.N.C. Sept. 23, 2014).

The computer professional exemption applies to any employee who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker whose primary duty involves systems analysis or computer programming.  Plaintiff, a $60,000 per annum LAN Engineer “responsible for designing and implementing local area networks in a school environment” for a district of five thousand students qualified for exemption in Judge N. Carlton Tilley, Jr.’s view because “the proper inquiry . . . [is] the level of skill and sophistication exhibited by the employee in conducting those [networking] activities”.  The court rejected Plaintiff Campbell’s overbroad and overly simplistic postulate that employees “primarily responsible for the day-to-day operations and functionality of computer networks do not fall into the computer professional exemption.”  Plaintiff testified that his duties included “monitoring not only just the functionality of the [Virtual Private Network ("VPN")], but [] monitoring the servers to make sure they were operating properly, monitoring the switches and routers . . . just to make sure that they were all up and running, and analyzing data to make determinations as to problems regarding network issues.”  The Court found the independent performance of these tasks sufficient to meet the duties test for computer professional exempt status.

Employers must analyze the applicability of all white collar exemptions when classifying  information technology personnel (or any other white collar personnel).

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 267
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About this Author

Noel Tripp Principal Employment lawyer at Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Principal

Noel P. Tripp is a Principal in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Since joining Jackson Lewis as a summer associate in May 2005, he has practiced exclusively in employment law.

Mr. Tripp has been involved in matters pending before federal and state courts and administrative agencies covering the gamut of employment-related matters from discrimination and workplace harassment to wage/hour disputes and affirmative-action compliance. His principal focus is the defense of class and collective action...

631-247-0404
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