Lear Werts was co-lead counsel in a collective action seeking unpaid overtime compensation for a class of grocery store department managers. The class members were paid a set salary for all the hours they worked. However, the class claimed that the work performed by the assistant managers was neither sufficiently administrative nor managerial to qualify the employees as exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
After obtaining conditional certification for the collective class, and defeating the grocery company’s motion for summary judgment, the case settled to the satisfaction of all parties.
Many assistant managers in retail stores like grocery stores, department stores, and clothing stores, are often treated as salary-exempt employees. That is, they are paid a salary and not paid any overtime premium pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. However, there is more to being an exempt employee than just being paid a salary. The salary is a necessary prerequisite but any employee classified as exempt must also pass the “duties test.” That is the nature of the employee’s primary duty must be analyzed to determine whether the employee’s work is sufficiently managerial, administrative, or both to qualify for the employee as properly exempt. Many retail assistant managers’ work is close to the line between properly exempt and misclassified. A close review of the business practices of the employer, the overall managerial hierarchy, and the day-to-day work performed by the employee is necessary to determine whether the employee can legally be denied overtime, or if the employee has a viable FLSA claim.