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Lola v. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
620 Fed.Appx. 37 (2nd Cir. 2015)
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally requires employers to pay employees overtime for any time worked in excess of 40 hours per week. However, licensed attorneys who are engaged in the practice of law are exempt from this overtime requirement. David Lola (plaintiff) was a California-licensed attorney who lived in North Carolina. Beginning in April of 2012, Lola worked for Tower Legal Staffing, Inc. (defendant) as a contract attorney reviewing documents for the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (defendant) in connection with a federal multidistrict litigation. Lola’s responsibilities included applying predetermined search terms to documents he received from Skadden and Tower, sorting the documents into categories specified by Skadden and Tower, and occasionally drawing black boxes to redact portions of the documents in accordance with procedures set forth by Skadden and Tower. Although Lola was a Tower employee, he was instructed to follow procedures set by Skadden attorneys, and his work was closely supervised by Skadden attorneys. Lola worked approximately 45 to 55 hours per week at a rate of $25 per hour. He did not receive a higher rate for any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Other attorneys working on the project performed the same type of work and were also paid the same hourly rate regardless of whether they worked more than 40 hours per week. Lola brought an action against Tower and Skadden in federal district court, alleging a violation of FLSA’s overtime provisions based on the failure to pay contract attorneys overtime rates for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. The district court found that Lola was exempt from the overtime requirement because he was a licensed attorney conducting document review, which North Carolina considers to be the practice of law. The court dismissed Lola’s complaint, and Lola appealed to the United States Court of Appeals to the Second Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Pooler, J.)
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