Auer et.al. were policemen in
St. Louis. They sued the police commissioner (Robbins) claiming that they
were denied overtime pay, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. §§201-)
The 29 U.S.C. §213(a)(1) exempts "bona fide executive,
administrative, or professional employees" from overtime pay.
The Department of Labor had
issued a regulation that defined a professional employee.
Robbins argued that the
policemen were professional employees, and were exempt from the overtime
The policemen were paid on
a salary basis, which is one of the requirements in the Department of
Labor's regulation for being considered a 'professional employee.'
Auer argued that their pay
could be reduced for low "quality or quantity" or work, so
they didn't completely meet the definition of salaried employees under
The Trial Court found for
Robbins. Auer appealed.
The Trial Court found that
the policemen met the definition of salaried employees and were therefore
exempt from overtime pay requirements.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court looked
at the Statute and found that it was ambiguous, and the Congress had not
specifically spoken on the issue.
The Court looked to the
Department of Labor's regulation, which was unclear whether Auer's
specific argument about how his salary could be reduced affected his
status as a 'professional employee.'
The Court looked to guidance
from the Secretary of Labor who filed an amicus brief which interpreted §213(a)(1) as to allow employees subject to disciplinary
deductions to still count as being 'exempt'.
In this case, the Fair
Labor Standards Act explicitly
gives the Secretary, "broad authority to define and delimit the
scope of the exemption for executive, administrative, and professional
The Court found that the
Secretary's interpretation was 'reasonable', and the courts must defer to
the Administrative Agency's interpretation, unless that interpretation is
arbitrary or capricious.
The Court found that
"because the salary-basis test is a creature of the Secretary's own
regulations, his interpretation of it is, under our jurisprudence,
controlling unless 'plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the
See Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
v. Natural Resources Defense Council
(467 U.S. 837 (1984)).
This case was an extension of Chevron because not only does it give deference to the
Administrative Agency in how their regulations interpret a Statute, but
also how the Agency interprets ambiguities in their own regulations.