Seyfarth Synopsis: New York
district court judge in Krupinski v. Laborers Eastern Region Org.
Fund,No. 15-cv-00982 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2016), grants
union's summary judgment dismissing former union
organizer's FLSA claims.
Former union organizer of LEROF, a non-profit organization
associated with the Laborers International Union of North America
("LIUNA") sued the Union for unpaid wages under the
Did the Union properly classify the union organizer as exempt?
This was the question at issue before the court. Both the
Union's summary judgment motion and Plaintiff's partial
summary judgment motion focused on the answer to this question. The
court agreed with the Union that the Union organizer's job
duties were duties of an exempt employee.
The court first reviewed Plaintiff's primary duties. As an
organizer, Plaintiff's primary objective was to motivate,
educate, and train construction workers and to convince non-union
workers to join LIUNA. Plaintiff frequently worked off-site to
participate in "rat and casket" actions. According to the
organizer, these actions, or demonstrations, were organized to
protest poor working conditions at non-unionized worksites and used
inflatable rats and coffins as props.
Plaintiff argued that the physical labor in setting up the
inflatable rats, constantly adjusting and maintaining the rats, and
carrying and unloading the caskets rendered his duties mostly
manual in nature. The court rejected his argument noting that the
physical tasks were merely incidental to the primary, non-manual
duty of organizing workers.
The court also found that the undisputed facts showed that
plaintiff's primary duties were to increase LIUNA's
membership and market share. Organizers were essentially the face
of LIUNA to the public and non-unionized workers. The court noted
that his duties, thus, mirrored several duties listed in the
Secretary of Labor's regulation as examples of exempt type of
The court also analyzed Plaintiff's discretion and
independent judgment on matters of significance. Plaintiff
identified target workers and potential candidates for house calls
during union campaigns, searched for and reported potential health
code violations at non-union job sites, and varied his approach
during organizing campaigns depending on the situation. The court
found that Plaintiff undoubtedly exercised discretion and
independent judgment when engaging in this work. Moreover, because
labor union organizing campaigns are of significance to the Union,
the court noted, Plaintiff's role in these campaigns was
important for determining his status as an exempt employee.
The court concluded that the Union successfully showed that its
former organizer was an exempt administrative employee. As a
result, the court granted the Union's summary judgment motion
burying the union organizer's FLSA claims six feet under.
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