Keith Sturtevant, who reportedly was hired as the couple’s warehouse manager in 2009 and worked in their Florida home, was given the status of an exempt employee, celebrity gossip site TMZ reports. Exempt employees are paid in terms of annual salary instead of hourly wages, which means Dion did not have to pay Sturtevant for the numerous hours of overtime he claims to have logged.
The problem with Sturtevant’s status as an exempt employee is that under U.S. law, exempt employees must have the authority to hire or fire other employees. That’s a responsibility Sturtevant says he did not have. It is worth noting that the ability to hire and/or fire is listed as a requirement for an executive exemption and Sturtevant’s former position does not seem to align with that type of description.
However, the U.S. Department of Labor does say that none of its exemption statuses apply to “manual laborers or other ‘blue collar’ workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy.”
Sturtevant’s duties, according to the lawsuit, included fixing ice makers, cleaning house shutters, building stages, and running miscellaneous errands — all manual labor.
Dion tells a different version of the story.
A representative for the diva told TMZ Sturtevant was “paid a handsome yearly salary that covered overtime for his services for three years.”
From the perspective of the defendant in the lawsuit, Sturtevant appears to be disgruntled over being fired for his alleged poor job performance.
Dion’s rep also told TMZ that when he was fired, the ex-handyman turned down a severance package that included $10,000.