Second Circuit Reviews Record, Finds Question of Fact as to Discretion and Independent Judgment Exercised by Adjusters
The FLSA exemption inquiry is fact-intensive, particularly when the analysis pertains to the so-called “white collar” exemptions, as highlighted by a new decision from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Harper v. Gov’t Emples. Ins. Co., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19310 (2d Cir. Oct. 10, 2014).
In Harper, District Judge Leonard Wexler granted a renewed motion for summary judgment, finding that the GEICO auto insurance adjuster plaintiffs exercised the requisite discretion and independent judgment to qualify for exempt status. On appeal, the Second Circuit disagreed, holding that a fact-finder needed to resolve disputes the Circuit Court deemed material concerning the adjusters’ discretion, particularly with respect to the settlement value of claims. The Court found summary judgment an inappropriate vehicle for resolving the parties’ conflicting positions concerning, inter alia, the role of GEICO’s claims analysis software in the claim settlement process.
Harper, originally filed in 2009, highlights the fact-specific nature litigation over exemption issues.