Services advisers at farm equipment dealerships are exempt from federal overtime rules, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Monday in a 5-4 decision on Encino Motorcars v. Navarro.
According to published reports, Hector Navarro and a group of current and former service advisers who worked at Encino Motorcars in California brought the complaint in 2012. It was dismissed by a federal judge twice and the Ninth Circuit Court reversed it twice.
Navvaro argued that the service advisor position is not specifically mentioned explicitly in the exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, this law covers “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles, trucks, or farm implements.”
According to a CNN report, “The majority rejected the view that fair-labor exemptions should be narrowly interpreted, and it spurned a 2011 Labor Department regulation that said "salesman" did not include service adviser. (That regulation had prompted the Mercedes-Benz employees to sue for back pay.)”
However, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court, “a service adviser is obviously a ‘salesman.’”
“The ordinary meaning of ‘salesman’ is someone who sells goods or services,” the 11-page decision states. “Service advisors do precisely that. As this court previously explained, service advisors ‘sell [customers] services for their vehicles.’”
According to a Courthouse News Service article, “Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were led in the dissent Monday by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Service advisors, such as respondents, neither sell automobiles nor service (i.e., repair or maintain) vehicles,” Ginsburg wrote. “Rather, they ‘meet and greet [car] owners’; ‘solicit and sugges[t]’ repair services ‘to remedy the [owner’s] complaints’; ‘solicit and suggest … supplemental [vehicle] service[s]’; and provide owners with cost estimates. Because service advisors neither sell nor repair automobiles, they should remain outside the exemption and within the act’s coverage.”
“Ginsburg also recounted several reasons why the exemption of partsmen should not likewise cover service advisers.
“Unlike service advisors, partsmen ‘get their hands dirty’ by ‘working as a mechanic’s right-hand man or woman,’ Ginsburg wrote, quoting her own concurring opinion in the court’s last dealing with the case.”