Professional Exemption

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York wage and hour laws, one of the exemptions used when classifying an employee as an exempt vs. nonexempt employee is the professional exemption.

An experienced FLSA and wage and hour attorney can help you determine whether the professional exemption applies to you (or whether another exemption, such as the administrative exemption or executive exemption, applies to you), or whether you are properly classified as an exempt employee.

Leeds Brown Law, P.C., has extensive experience in handling employment disputes. Such employment disputes consist of FLSA and wage and hour law claims, including violations of overtime laws due to improper classification of exempt or nonexempt status, including the inappropriate application of a professional exemption. Our efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in monetary and non monetary compensation for employees throughout Long Island and New York.

Professional Exemptions

There are four basic categories of professional exemption, and the employee must meet all the requirements of one these categories: learned professional, creative professional, teacher or computer employee.


The employee’s primary duties must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, which is defined as work that is predominantly intellectual in character and includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment. Specifically:

  • The employee must be in a field of science or learning.
  • The employee’s work knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized instruction.

Examples include RNs, doctors, attorneys, CPAs and medical technologists.


The employee’s primary duties must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor. Specifically:

  • The creative professional’s work is distinguished from work that primarily depends on intelligence, diligence and accuracy.
  • The employee’s duties may involve music, writing, acting and graphic arts


The employee’s primary duties are teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in order to impart knowledge, and the employee is engaged in the performance of these duties at an educational establishment or institution.

Examples include professors (regardless of rank), lecturers, adjuncts and teachers in the FDC. Examples do not include teacher assistants unless they are primarily responsible for classroom instruction.


Computer employees must be employed as computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers or other similarly skilled workers in the computer field. Their primary duties must consist of the:

  • Application of systems analysis techniques and procedures.
  • Design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs.
  • Design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems.
  • Any combination of the above.

Employees of the help desk generally do not fall under this exemption.

At Leeds Brown Law, P.C., our lawyers have extensive experience in handling employment disputes. Such employment disputes consist of overtime claims and wage and hour law violations, including violations resulting from the improper use of the professional exemption. Our wage and hour law and overtime violations representation extends to clients throughout Long Island and elsewhere in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as across the country.

We would be happy to discuss your claim in confidence, and provide free consultations to answer your questions and evaluate your claim. Contact us today to discover how we can help you.

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