To meet the professional exemption, an employee must have the power to make independent judgement and exercise discretion. Would a company policy requiring peer review before making a computer system change preclude the employee from making independent judgment? It is common for I.T. environments to have a change control process that requires other parties to evaluate a proposed change. Many I.T. employees depend on other people's approval before going forward with any change.
Systems Administrators and Quality Assurance employees usually gained their knowledge through apprenticeships and on the job training (not college).
Do I.T. employees who need to go through a review board meeting before making changes fail the professional exemption to be lawfully salaried?
Whether an employee is properly classified is one of the more difficult questions in the wage and hour arena, and the "discretion and independent judgment" piece of the puzzle can be particularly difficult. Many employers confuse a person utilizing his skill and knowledge with exercising discretion and independent judgment.
As to your specific question, exercising discretion and independent judgment may include providing recommendations to others regarding how to proceed on a particular matter, project, issue, etc. It does not require the total absence of any input from anyone else.
Exempt versus non-exempt issues are extremely fact intensive. I highly recommend having your situation reviewed by an attorney familiar with exemptions under state and federal law.
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