The US Supreme Court Wednesday heard oral arguments in Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt. The court was asked to determine whether a supervisor who makes over $200,000 a year is entitled to overtime pay under 29 CFR § 541.604, despite an exemption in 29 CFR § 541.601 for highly-paid executives.
Michael Hewitt worked for Helix Energy Solutions and later sued for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Helix argued that they did not have to pay Hewitt overtime pay because he was a highly-compensated employee. However, Hewitt contends that because he is paid on a daily basis—not on a salary basis—he is entitled to overtime pay. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded the case in favor of Hewitt.
Helix argued that § 541.601 does not require a worker be paid on a salary basis. Justice Sonia Sotomayor pressed Helix on an amicus brief submitted by the National Nurses United. In the brief, the National Nurses United argued that if the petitioner’s interpretation of the regulation wins, it could have dire consequences for the healthcare industry.
In response, Hewitt argued that the highly-compensated employee regulation, § 541.601, requires payment on a salaried basis and does not apply in this case because Hewitt was paid on a daily basis. Justice Clarence Thomas pushed Hewitt to explain how making $200,000 a year is not an indication of being a salaried employee. Hewitt argued that he was not an executive, as defined under § 541.601.
The US also provided oral arguments as an amicus curiae, supporting Hewitt.