Helicopter pilots must be paid overtime, or at least thats what the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals says. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have considered their helicopter pilots exempt from overtime under the learned professional category of the federal Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA). In order to qualify as a learned professional, an employee must primarily perform work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, which is normally acquired through an advanced degree. While helicopter pilots are undoubtedly highly skilled, and undergo vigorous training and supervision in order to obtain their certifications, there is no requirement that they possess an advanced degree. Their knowledge is obtained through skills-based education, not intellectual academic instruction, and, according to the court, that means helicopter pilots do not qualify as learned professionals under the FLSA (Pignataro v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 3rd Cir, Jan. 2010).
To learn more about overtime exemptions under the FLSA, check out our Legal Guide, When Is an Employee Exempt Under Federal Law? (1052).
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