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10th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules a Security Guard’s Duties and not the Title Determines Whether the Security Guard is Exempt from FLSA Coverage

With hundreds of hotels in and millions of visitors to Las Vegas, a high number of individuals employed in Las Vegas and other areas of Nevada are employed as security guards. A recent federal appeals case, however, could affect how Las Vegas and Nevada business should classify security guards (exempt or non-exempt) for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage.

In Maestas et al. v. Day & Zimmerman and SOC , four security guards worked for Day & Zimmerman and SOC, contractors that provided security services at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. For FLSA purpose, the two companies classified the security guards as executives exempt from FLSA coverage. The four security guards sued to change their classification to non-exempt for FLSA purposes.

Evidence showed that the security guards for the two companies could hold a variety of employment titles, such as major, captain, and lieutenant, and the security guards were organized in a structure similar to a military organization. Security guard duties were a mix of managerial and nonmanagerial duties. Non-management security guards for the two companies were unionized. And all security guards were required to be trained, especially as first responders, on respirators, and on hazardous materials. Security guards were also required to obtain supervisory experience and training in leadership, management, and administration.
Because the two companies classified the security guards as executives , a federal district court dismissed the security guards’ suit and granted summary judgment to the two companies. On appeal, the appellate court reviewed the duties of the one security guard who held the title of supervisor and found that his primary duties were managerial. For this security guard, the appellate court upheld the district court’s ruling for summary judgment.
For the remaining three security guards, the appellate court held that from the evidence presented it was not reasonable to conclude that their managerial duties were the primary part of their total work duties. As such the district court erred in awarding summary judgment to the two companies. For these three security guards, the case was remanded back to district court. Maestas et al. v. Day & Zimmerman and SOC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, No. 10-2280 (2012).

The Las Vegas law office of Lagomarsino Law did not represent anyone involved in the above-referenced case. The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you would like to be represented by a Nevada attorney, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.