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Argued: August 3, 2009

Before: POOLER, LIVINGSTON, and LYNCH, Circuit Judges.*fn1

This appeal requires us to decide whether underwriters tasked with approving loans, in accordance with detailed guidelines provided by their employer, are administrative employees exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Andrew Whalen was employed by J.P. Morgan Chase (“Chase”) for four years as an underwriter. As an underwriter, Whalen evaluated whether to issue loans to individual loan applicants by referring to a detailed set of guidelines, known as the Credit Guide, provided to him by Chase. The Credit Guide specified how underwriters should determine loan applicant characteristics such as qualifying income and credit history, and instructed underwriters to compare such data with criteria, also set out in the Credit Guide, prescribing what qualified a loan applicant for a particular loan product. Chase also provided supplemental guidelines and product guidelines with information specific to individual loan products. An underwriter was expected to evaluate each loan application under the Credit Guide and approve the loan if it met the Guide’s standards. If a loan did not meet the Guide’s standards, certain underwriters had some ability to make exceptions or variances to implement appropriate compensating factors. Whalen and Chase provide different accounts of how often underwriters made such exceptions.

 
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