June 2021 Alaska HR Legal Updates

Alaska Lowers Standard of Establishing State Law Wage and Hour Exemptions

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Alaska.

What happened?
On June 11, 2021, Alaska Supreme Court ruled a new standard for establishing exemptions under the Alaska Wage and Hour Act (AWHA).

What are the details?
The recent ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court in Buntin v. 00073 Tmb Schlumberger Tech. Corp., 2021 Alas. LEXIS 74 (Alaska June 11, 2021) has held that an employer will only need to establish an exemption under the AWHA by a “preponderance of evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The court previously held the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof in error and to ensure consistency between Alaska and Federal law, will adopt the standard “preponderance of evidence” to remove unnecessary confusion.

While the AWHA has not adopted the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in all respects, those exemptions that are directly tied to the AWHA and FLSA – specifically the Executive, Administrative, and Professional exemptions – should be fairly interpreted. Otherwise, the standard of narrowly construing exemptions under the AWHA will remain in place.

The court ruling can be read here.

An article on the ruling can also be read here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the information above and in the ruling to ensure they follow the correct standard of proof based on the exemption being established.