By Tom Kennedy
The Sixth Circuit recently affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the largest internet mortgage loan originator in the Country. In Henry v. Quicken Loans 445 of Quicken’s mortgage bankers in Michigan sued to recover overtime pay, claiming that they were improperly classified by Quicken as non-exempt workers. The case proceeded through a five-week jury trial, and the jury found that the mortgage bankers were exempt, and therefore not entitled to overtime. The employees then took an appeal to the Sixth Circuit, which found that the jury reached an appropriate conclusion given the evidence presented at trial.
Quicken was aided by testimony from some of the mortgage bankers conceding that they did, in fact, exercise discretion and independent judgment, which is one of the cornerstones of exempt status under the administrative exemption. Quicken also presented evidence showing that the mortgage bankers were not merely salespersons masquerading as mortgage bankers, and the jury concluded, based on this evidence, that the a sales function was not the primary duty of the mortgage banker position. Although there was competing testimony on these points, the Sixth Circuit concluded that the jury was entitled to judge the credibility of the competing witnesses on these points. Of course, no employer wants to suffer a lengthy jury trial that may come down to credibility determinations by a jury. As always, we remind employers to regularly audit their pay practices and their use of exemptions and to make sure that employees are properly classified.