The April 23, 2004 issue of the Federal Register contained the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new final federal regulation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) implementing the exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay for executives, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer employees. The DOL decided not to apply the “professional” exemption from overtime pay to pilots who are not otherwise exempt.
Under S13(b)(3) of the FLSA, most pilots including airline pilots are exempt from the FLSA overtime requirement including “any employee of a carrier by air subject to the provisions of the Title II of the Railway Labor Act.” However, the exempt status of other pilots, such as corporate jet and helicopter pilots, are determined under S13 (a)(1) of the FLSA.
The DOL has taken the position that pilots are not exempt professionals. However, several recent court decisions have ruled to the contrary, holding that pilots are exempt professionals. As a result of the conflict in the courts, and the lack of uniformity on the standard educational requirements for the various pilot employment positions, the DOL decided not to modify its position on pilots at this time. The DOL is keeping its “non-enforcement policy” that has been in place for several years for pilots engaged in certain flying activities.