Clews v. Cty. of Schuylkill

Three former Deputy Coroners sued their employer, the County of Schuylkill, claiming the County violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by failing to pay them overtime and then firing them in retaliation for seeking overtime pay. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the County, concluding that Plaintiffs were personal staff of the County’s elected Coroner and, thus, could not bring an FLSA claim. In this case of first impression, the Third Circuit vacated and remanded. On appeal, Plaintiffs first argued that the County forfeited its argument about the FLSA’s personal staff exception. Second, Plaintiffs argued that even if the County did not forfeit the defense, the District Court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of the County because there were genuine disputes of material fact concerning applying the personal staff exception. The Third Circuit disagreed with the Plaintiffs’ first claim and held that the County did not waive its argument about the FLSA’s personal staff exception. The Court then held that for an employee to be a member of an elected official’s personal staff, 1) the official must work closely with the employee in a sensitive position of trust and confidence, and 2) the official exercises personal control over the employee’s hiring, promotion, work conditions, discipline, and termination. The Court applied those two elements and concluded that it could not “conclude that the Deputy Coroners in Schuylkill County fall under the personal staff exception based on undisputed facts.”

Clews