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Dear Dr. Weil:

The Food Marketing Institute (“FMI”) submits these comments in response to the proposal of the Department of Labor (the “Department”), as published in the Federal Register on July 6, 2015, to revise the regulations at 29 C.F.R. Part 541, defining and delimiting the exemptions for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees in Section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” or the “Act”), 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit www.fmi.org and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit www.fmifoundation.org.

The Department of Labor’s proposed changes to the regulations at 29 C.F.R. Part 541 (the “EAP” or “white collar” regulations), i finalized, will have a significant impact on our members. FMI is very concerned about the potential impact of the Proposed Rule on supermarkets and food wholesalers, especially in terms of how it may affect associates who are currently exempt. FMI’s member companies believe that employees and employers alike are best served with a system that promotes maximum flexibility in structuring employee hours, career advancement opportunities for employees, and clarity for employers when classifying employees. If the Department implements the rule as proposed, the revisions will dramatically impact FMI members’ ability to maintain that flexibility and clarity. Additionally, the proposal will result in a large number of supermarket employees being reclassified as exempt. This will not only limit career advancement and opportunities for employees, but will also decrease employee morale, reduce employee benefits and will significantly increase administrative costs. FMI strongly urges the Department to consider the comments below.

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