School Resource Officers
In a recent opinion letter, below, the Department of Labor (DOL) concluded that a school resource officer (SRO) qualified for the administrative exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 per week unless they fall under one of FLSA’s exemptions. To fall under the administrative exemption, an employee must (1) be paid at least $455/week; (2) perform a primary duty of office or non-manual work directly related to the management of general business operations of the employer; and (3) exercise discretion and independent judgment in matters of significance. DOL cited several reasons for its conclusion that the SRO described in the inquiry is an administrative employee. Specifically, the SRO performed non-manual work, including writing reports, performing training, and providing recommendations to staff. The SRO’s primary duty was providing safety and security to students, which falls within the regulatory definition of "work directly related to management or general business operations." And the SRO exercises discretion and independent judgment because the SRO is minimally supervised, has a budget of $15,000-$20,000, and provides extensive recommendations that usually are implemented. DOL did note that the regulations state that police officers are not exempt from overtime. However, police officers do their work in furtherance of the primary, law enforcement mission of their employer, which is considered "production" work that does not fall under the administrative exemption. Because a school district’s purpose is to educate students, an SRO’s duties are not "production" work.
[DOL opinion letter]