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FEC Record: Advisory Opinions

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AO 2012-02 Wawa

Wawa, Inc., a corporation that operates convenience stores, may solicit its Area Managers and General Managers on behalf of its separate segregated fund (SSF), Wawa PAC, because they are part of Wawa's “executive or administrative personnel.” The General Managers' limited, discretionary manual labor does not exclude them from the restricted class of Wawa's SSF.

Background
Wawa has 41 Area Managers, each of whom covers a fixed geographic territory.  Between 12 and 17 General Managers, who operate the stores, report to each Area Manager.  Area Managers do not supervise the General Managers’ day-to-day work.  They do, however, have the authority to hire and fire, to discipline, and to evaluate the performance of, the General Managers. Area Managers also maintain corporate standards within their territories, ensure compliance with corporate policies and federal, state and local regulations, analyze financial statements and participate in the corporate budget process.

General Managers manage the entire operation at each store and supervise approximately thirty employees, on average. Their principal duties include hiring, training and coaching store employees, ensuring that store employees follow safety, security, quality and operations policies, analyzing local trends and results to improve the store's standing and planning and preparing employees' work schedules. Although they occasionally undertake manual tasks in the stores, this is at their discretion.

Wawa asks if the Area Managers and General Managers are “executive or administrative personnel” as defined in the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations and therefore constitute members of Wawa PAC's restricted class who may be solicited at any time.

Analysis
Under the Act and Commission regulations, the Area Managers and General Managers qualify as executive or administrative personnel. In determining which employees have “policymaking, managerial, professional, or supervisory responsibilities” (2 U.S.C. §441b(b)(7)), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and regulations issued under the FLSA, may serve as a guideline. 11 CFR 114.1(c)(4).

Both Area Managers and General Managers are salaried employees who “run the corporation's business.” Both oversee “units with permanent status and [continuing] functions” in the corporate structure. 29 CFR 541.103. Additionally, they have the authority to hire, fire and evaluate the performance of those they supervise and may discipline them when appropriate, and both exercise the kind of discretion and independent judgment that FLSA regulations attribute to managers. Area Managers formulate, affect, interpret and implement management policies and operating practices. General Managers interpret and implement management policies and operating practices. Both perform work that affects business operations to a substantial degree, and both plan business objectives for the area. See 29 CFR 541.202.

Although General Managers spend most of their workday supervising hourly employees and may, at their discretion, perform manual tasks, they are not considered “foremen [or] lower level supervisors having direct supervision over hourly employees.” See 11 CFR 114.1(c)(2)(ii). They have discretionary authority in matters affecting the existence of the stores, including the receipt of inventory, management of safety programs, analysis of store profit and expenses and hiring and firing of their employees. Furthermore, a substantial number of the hourly associates they supervise are considered full time and are eligible for benefits (and may supervise other hourly employees). Because of these factors, and because manual work is incidental to their managerial duties, the Commission concludes that General Managers are not foremen or lower level supervisors, but rather executive or administrative personnel. Thus, both General Managers and Area Managers qualify as members of the restricted class who may be solicited at any time for contributions to Wawa PAC.

Date Issued: 2/16/2012; 6 pages

(Posted 2/24/12: By: Christopher Berg)

 

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The FEC Record is produced by the Information Division, Office of Communications. Toll free 800-424-9530; Local 202-694-1100; E-mail info@fec.gov. Greg Scott, Director; Amy Kort, Asst. Director; Myles Martin, Editor