Is the Issue of Whether Pilots Are ‘Professionals’ for Purposes of Wage and Hour Laws Still up in the Air? You May Be Surprised at How This Alaska Ruling Could Affect All Employers.
By Peter C. Partnow
In a recent decision, the Alaska Supreme Court held that a pilot was not an exempt professional under the Alaska Wage and Hour Act, which is patterned after the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Although decided under Alaska law on the narrow issue of whether or not the pilot at issue was an exempt professional, the decision has potential implications beyond Alaska and for other employees classified by their employers as exempt professionals under Alaska or federal law.
The case of Moody v. Royal Wolf Lodge, decided on November 14, involved a claim for overtime pay by a pilot employed by a wilderness lodge in Alaska. Under both federal and Alaska state law, non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to overtime at one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay. (Under Alaska Law, overtime pay is also required for non-exempt employees who work more than eight hours in a day.) Both Alaska state and federal law provide exemptions from these overtime requirements for certain categories of employees. Probably the most commonly relied upon exemptions are for individuals employed in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity.
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