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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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What is the definition of a salaried Kitchen Manager

Customer Question

What is the definition of a salaried Kitchen Manager for for the US labor laws. I have a group of restaurants that all have salaried 50 hr KM's and during an audit I am being told they should be paid hourly with overtime.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
To be exempt from overtime pursuant to the managerial exemption (aka the "executive exemption"), a kitchen manager must be "primarily engaged" in the management of two or more employees (meaning they spend 51% or more of your time on MANAGEMENT activities and they have substantial discretion when it comes to hiring and firing). They must also be paid a weekly salary no less than $455. See here for more information: http://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17b_executive.pdf
Simply calling an employee a "manager" does not mean they satisfy the exemption. The actual nature of the employee's job is what will control, and whether the nature of their job satisfies the requirements for exemption is a factual question that, ultimately, must be decided by a jury.
So, whether or not you should reclassify your kitchen managers depends on exactly what they are doing and the liklihood that a jury will find the requirements for exemption are satisfied.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
How are restaurants around the country using salaried chefs and sous chefs.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Well first, many probably aren't using them right and are exposing themselves to lawsuits. Second, no law prevents an employer from paying any employee a salary, what the law prohibits is paying a non-exempt employee a salary without paying overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. So, if the employee does not go over 40 hours, paying them a flat salary does not violate any law.
But aside from these considerations, chefs and sous chefs who have attained a four-year specialized academic degree in a culinary arts program, generally meet the duties requirements for the "learned professional" exemption from overtime. The DOL clarifies that the learned professional exemption is not available to cooks who perform predominantly routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work” (29 C.F.R. §541.301(e)(6)) But this exemption is often used as the basis for salary exemption for chefs in "fine dining."
Certain other chefs also spend most of their time coordinating the work of the cooks and directing the preparation of meals, which qualifies them for the managerial exemption as discussed above.
So, there are certainly ways for chefs and sous chefs to be salary exempt. There are also certainly many who are classified as salaried exempt but not properly. I think this would explain how restaurants around the country using salaried chefs and sous chefs.
I hope this helps. Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.
Very best wishes.