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Not Just Another Brick: Banquet Sales Managers Have Discretion

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on December 09, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's common for employees to sometimes feel like they have no power or control over their jobs. Marx's alienation theory basically states that "you're just another brick in the wall."

If you don't feel like you are the director of your actions in your current job, perhaps you should consider a career in hospitality? The First Circuit Court of Appeals recently held in Hines v. State Room, Inc. that banquet sales managers have a fair amount of sufficient discretion and independent judgment to at least qualify for the administrative exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Disgruntled banquet sales managers disagreed, and it began with a handbook.

After a number of managers received a manual requiring supervisor approval of contracts and a fixed price schedule, the managers felt they lost too much control to be considered exempt administrative employees and were owed overtime.

The lower court ruled in favor of their employers, and the First Circuit followed suit. In the Court of Appeals' opinion, banquet sales managers, with their "unscripted conversations" and dedicated work to "create a custom product, personalized to individual tastes and budgets," still retained sufficient discretion and independent judgment despite losing all authority over financial decisions.

Round table or square? Chicken or steak? Floral arrangement or candles? All decisions regarding "matters of significance" guided by the expert opinion of a banquet sales manager equipped with discretion and independent judgment.

Banquet sales managers may feel like they are just a cog in the machine, but to the First Circuit, they're an independent, thinking machine that doesn't get overtime.

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