I.  Misclassification

Misclassification Litigation—this is a list of case results in significant litigation involving the improper misclassification of various positions as exempt from the overtime requirements. In virtually all of these cases, the employer had uniformly misclassified the position as exempt from the overtime requirements.  This meant that individuals who worked more than 40 hours a week, received a salary and no overtime compensation.

In each case, we were able to show that the so-called “exempt” employees were misclassified because:

  • They spent most of their working time performing the same duties as hourly employees;
  • They did not customarily, regularly or independently hire, fire, delegate, supervise, evaluate or direct associate employees;
  • They were closely supervised by other managers and directors; and
  • They performed duties in accordance with well-established and uniform standards, practices and procedures which removed and/or limited their ability to exercise independent judgment or discretion.

These cases are just a sample of misclassification lawsuits we have been involved with over the years.  In addition to these lawsuits, we have successfully handled claims on behalf of misclassified employees at Target, Conn’s Appliances, Anthropology, BBVA Compass, Bright Horizons, Martin Midstream, Seacor, American Commercial Lines, T.G. Mercer, Office Max, Integrated Electrical Services, EzPawn, Administaff and countless other businesses.

Shirley Craig, et al. v. Rite Aid Corporation, et al.; C.A. 4:08-cv-02317-JEJ-MCC; United States District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania.

This was a nationwide lawsuit involving the misclassification of all Assistant Store Managers employed by Rite Aid and Eckerd stores under both state and federal wage and hour laws.  In this lawsuit, the Plaintiffs alleged that they were improperly classified as exempt from the overtime requirements even though they performed non-exempt and non-management functions such as stocking, operating the cash register, customer services and sales.  The Plaintiffs also alleged that they were required to adhere to very standardized practices and procedures which dictated how they performed their job, effectively preventing them from exercising independent judgment and discretion with respect to any significant matter. The litigation resulted in a substantial settlement and the reclassification of the Assistant Store Manager position from salaried/exempt to an overtime eligible hourly position.

  • Total settlement:    $20,900,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $6,693,067.38
  • Total costs:           $273,596.62

Tricia Ene, et al. v. Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., C.A. 4:09-cv-2453; United States District Court for Southern District of Texas—Houston Division.

This was a nationwide lawsuit involving the misclassification of all Homecare and Staffing Recruiters employed by Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. under both state and federal wage and hour laws.  In this lawsuit, the Plaintiffs alleged that they primarily performed scheduling duties and that they weren’t responsible for supervising any of the external medical staff.  The litigation resolved for a substantial settlement and structural changes to each of the Defendants’ branch staffing offices.

  • Total settlement:    $12,285,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $4,299,750.00
  • Total costs:           $213,627.49

Ian Pastorius, et al. v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., C.A. 11-cv-00307; United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas—Galveston Division.

This was a nationwide lawsuit alleging that Lowe’s misclassified its Loss Prevention Manager position as exempt under various federal and state wage laws.  Plaintiffs alleged that Lowe’s required Loss Prevention Managers to spend more than 50% of their time performing the same duties as the hourly loss prevention associates.  Plaintiffs alleged that Loss Prevention Managers were not required to perform traditional management duties such as hiring, supervising, firing, delegating or disciplining the associates.  Instead the Plaintiffs alleged that Loss Prevention Managers spent their working hours walking the floor, apprehending shoplifters and watching CCTV to deter and identify theft.  The lawsuit resolved for a substantial sum and led the reclassification of all Lowe’s Loss Prevention Managers throughout the United States.

  • Total settlement:    $6,175,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $2,058,333.33
  • Total costs:           $25,774.69

Cooper Goodson, Jr. v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., C.A. 09-5012; United States District Court for Eastern District of Louisiana.

This settlement resolved several years of extensive litigation involving the classification of the Assistant Store Manager position at Big Lots. Plaintiffs alleged that they did not regularly supervise any employees and that they weren’t responsible for traditional management functions such as hiring, firing, disciplining, interviewing or delegating work.   They also alleged that they regularly worked more than 40 hours a week performing the same duties as the hourly employees.  During this period, the parties tried and won multiple lawsuits involving allegations that Big Lots had willfully and in bad faith misclassified the Assistant Store Manager position.  See Johnson v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., C.A. 04-3201; United States District Court for Eastern District of Louisiana. 

  • Total settlement:    $4,000,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $1,196,436.49
  • Total costs:           $133,813.88

Zachary Torres, et al. v. Lowe’s HIW, Inc. and Micheal Meyer, et al. v. Lowe’s HIW, Inc., C.A. 09-06962-DDP/C.A. 09-08354-DDP; United States District Court for the Central District of California.

This was a lawsuit alleging that Lowe’s misclassified its Loss Prevention Manager position as exempt under the California Labor Code.  Plaintiffs alleged that Lowe’s required Loss Prevention Managers to spend more than 50% of their time performing the same duties as the hourly loss prevention associates.  Plaintiffs alleged that Loss Prevention Managers were not required to perform traditional management duties such as hiring, supervising, firing, delegating or disciplining the associates.  Instead the Plaintiffs alleged that Loss Prevention Managers spent their working hours walking the floor, apprehending shoplifters and watching CCTV to deter and identify theft.  The lawsuit resolved for a substantial sum and led the reclassification of all Lowe’s Loss Prevention Managers in California.

  • Total settlement:    $2,950,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $885,000.00
  • Total costs:           $25,000.00

Deborah Hanks, et al. v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., C.A. 504-cv-238-DF; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas—Texarkana Division.

This was a nationwide lawsuit involving the misclassification of the Furniture Department Manager position at Big Lots. Plaintiffs alleged that they worked more than 40 hours a week performing basic non-exempt functions like cleaning, stocking, sales, cashiering, janitorial work, and customer service.  Plaintiffs also alleged that they did not regularly supervise any employees and that they weren’t responsible for traditional management functions such as hiring, firing, disciplining, interviewing or delegating work.  The lawsuit resolved for a substantial amount and led to the reclassification of the Furniture Department Manager position from exempt to non-exempt.

  • Total settlement:    $2,950,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $982,500.00
  • Total costs:           $42,348.33

Gene Cintron, et al. v. BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., C.A. 12-cv-11064-JT; United States District Court for District of Massachusetts.

This was a nationwide lawsuit involving the misclassification of both the Asset Protection Manager and Personnel Manager positions at BJ’s Wholesale Club.  Plaintiffs alleged that they spend the majority of their time performing the same duties as the hourly employees and as a result they should have been paid overtime when they worked more than 40 hours a week. They also alleged that they didn’t perform any management duties such as hiring, firing, supervising, or delegating on a regular or customary basis.  The lawsuit resolved for a substantial amount of money.

  • Total settlement:    $2,700,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $891,000.00
  • Total costs:           $16,625.25

Elizabeth Laughlin v. VmWare, Inc., Case No. 74 160 Y 00068 12; American Arbitration Association.

This lawsuit involved the misclassification of VmWare’s Technical Trainer position.  Claimant alleged that she and other Technical Trainers were improperly classified as exempt even though they didn’t perform any exempt or specialized functions.  After extensive litigation, the parties resolved the claims of 51 Technical Trainers for $800,000.00.

  • Total settlement:    $800,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $266,667.00
  • Total costs:           $16,563.99

 

II.  Off-the-Clock Litigation for Hourly Employees

Off-the-Clock Litigation—this is a list of case results in significant litigation involving allegations that the employer required the employee to work off-the-clock without compensation.  Most of these lawsuits involved the following allegations:

  • The employer required employees to work through lunch without additional pay;
  • The employer used an automatic deduction system which automatically deducted thirty minutes or more for meal periods;
  • The employer didn’t pay for time spent by employees performing/attending pre-shift safety/tower/tool box meetings; man-to-man shift relief; mobilization or demobilization to and from the job site; pre-trip inspections; emergency drills; off-site training/physicals/drug tests;
  • The employer didn’t pay for time spent by employees donning, doffing and cleaning required safety gear, clothing, PPE or other equipment—before, during and after the shift; and
  • The employer paid employees for their scheduled shift instead of the actual hours that they worked.

These cases are just a sample of off-the-clock lawsuits we have been involved with over the years.  In addition to these lawsuits, we have successfully handled claims on behalf of employees at Shell, Atofina, Waste Management, Petrochemical Services, Protect America, Hilton Hotels, US Unwired, Hydrochem, LeFleur Transportation, A-Rocket, City of Stafford, LTD Financial Services, and countless other businesses and employers.

Luz Mendoza, et al., v. Harris Ranch Beef Company; Case No. 09CECG01943 AMS; Superior Court of California, County of Fresno.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Harris Ranch Beef Company based on allegations that Harris Ranch had failed to comply with the California Labor Code with respect to its first and second processing line employees.  Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Harris Ranch did not properly compensate employees for performing pre- and post-shift activities relating to donning, doffing and cleaning clothing, equipment and PPE.  Plaintiffs also alleged that Harris Ranch failed to provide uninterrupted meal and rest periods each day; that they failed to accurately track all hours worked; that they failed to timely compensate employees at the time of separation and that they required employees to pay for their own equipment—all in violation of the California Labor Code.  The litigation was settled for a substantial amount of money and resulted in changes to Harris Ranch’s compensation practices.

  • Total settlement:    $2,250,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $563,037.44
  • Total costs:           $32,045.56

Janice Hosler, et al., v. Smithfield Packing Company, Inc., C.A. 7:07-cv-0166-H and Jerry Parker, et al., v. Smithfield Packing Company, Inc., C.A. 7:07-cv-0176-H; United States District Court for Eastern District of North Carolina—Southern Division.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Smithfield Packing based on allegations that they required all first and second processing line employees at their Tarheel and Clinton facilities to perform certain job functions before, during and after their shifts without pay.  These activities included the time spent retrieving, donning, doffing, cleaning and/or disposing of equipment, PPE, clothing and other gear.  After conducting time studies, interviews, depositions and written discovery, the parties were able to reach a settlement which resolved the litigation and compensated the class members for their unpaid activities.

  • Total settlement:             Confidential
  • Attorneys’ fees/costs:     $950,000.00

In Re: Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, et al.South Carolina Plaintiffs and Atkinson Plaintiffs, C.A. 08-45664-DML-ll; United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas—Ft. Worth Division.

This was a nationwide wage and hour lawsuit against Gold Kist, Inc. based on allegations that Gold Kist required all first and second processing line employees at all of their plants throughout the southern states to perform certain job functions before, during and after their shifts without pay.  These activities included the time spent retrieving, donning, doffing, cleaning and/or disposing of equipment, PPE, clothing and other gear.  After conducting time studies, countless interviews and written discovery, the parties were able to reach a settlement which resolved the litigation and compensated the class members for their unpaid activities.

  • Total settlement:    $1,750,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $1,050,000.00
  • Total costs:           $87,396.70

Guillermo Hernandez, et al., v. Central Valley Meat Co.; C.A. No. 10-C0158; Superior Court of California, Kings County.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Central Valley Meat Co. based on allegations that Central Valley had failed to comply with the California Labor Code with respect to its first and second processing line employees.  Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Central Valley did not properly compensate employees for performing pre- and post-shift activities relating to donning, doffing and cleaning clothing, equipment and PPE.  Plaintiffs also alleged that Central Valley failed to provide uninterrupted meal and rest periods each day; that they failed to accurately track all hours worked; that they failed to timely compensate employees at the time of separation and that they required employees to pay for their own equipment—all in violation of the California Labor Code.  The litigation was settled for a substantial amount of money and resulted in changes to Central Valley’s compensation practices.

  • Total settlement:    $1,300,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $429,955.11
  • Total costs:           $8,377.89

Sharyn Nolen, et al., v. Maple Leaf Farms, Inc. d/b/a Woodland Farms, et al.; BC486965; Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Maple Leaf Farms based on allegations that Maple Leaf had failed to comply with the California Labor Code with respect to its first and second processing line employees at its Los Angeles duck processing facility.  Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Maple Leaf Farms did not properly compensate employees for performing pre- and post-shift activities relating to donning, doffing and cleaning clothing, equipment and PPE.  Plaintiffs also alleged that Maple Leaf Farms failed to provide uninterrupted meal and rest periods each day; that they failed to accurately track all hours worked; that they failed to timely compensate employees at the time of separation and that they required employees to pay for their own equipment—all in violation of the California Labor Code.  The litigation was settled for a substantial amount of money following extensive discovery and depositions of key plant personnel.

  • Total settlement:    $1,150,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $383,333.33
  • Total costs:           $53,276.52

Brian Conerly, et al., v. Marshall Durbin Food Corporation, C.A. 2:06-cv-205; United States District Court for Southern District of Mississippi—Hattiesburg Division and In Re: Vanessa Colbert, et al., C.A. 6:10-cv-129 RRA; United States District Court for Northern District of Alabama—Jasper Division.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Marshall Durbin Food Corporation based on allegations that Marshall Durbin required all first and second processing employees at both of their plants in Mississippi and Alabama to perform certain job functions before, during and after their shifts without pay.  These activities included the time spent retrieving, donning, doffing, cleaning and/or disposing of equipment, PPE, clothing and other gear.  After conducting time studies, depositions, countless interviews and written discovery, the parties were able to reach a confidential settlement which resolved the litigation and compensated the class members for their unpaid activities.

  • Total settlement:    Confidential

Yolanda August, et al. v. Beaumont ISD; C.A. 1:03-cv-787; United States District Court for Eastern District of Texas—Beaumont Division.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Beaumont ISD on behalf of hourly employees such as maintenance workers, custodians, cafeteria employees, bus drivers, teacher’s aides. These workers were required to perform pre-shift and post-shift work without compensation.  Additionally, these workers alleged that they were required to work two or more jobs but the hours worked were not properly combined to ensure that the workers received overtime compensation.  The lawsuit settled for a substantial amount of money and resulted in changes to the compensation practices at Beaumont ISD.

  • Total settlement:    $850,000.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $280,500.00
  • Total costs:           $12,000.00

James Williams, et al., v Aramark Sports, L.L.C., C.A. 10-cv-1044-GP; United States District Court for Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Aramark Sports, L.L.C., Aramark Sports, Inc. and Aramark (collectively, “Aramark”) on behalf of all hourly employees who worked at Citizens Bank Park, Wells Fargo Center, f/k/a the Wachovia Center,  Wachovia Spectrum, and/or Lincoln Financial Field.  These workers alleged that they weren’t properly compensated in accordance with state and/or federal wage laws because they weren’t paid at the proper rate of pay or credited for all hours worked when they worked at two or more Aramark facilities. After extensive witness interviews and auditing thousands of pages of wage records, the parties reached a settlement which resolved the pending claims and ensured that Aramark’s time-keeping and that the challenged payroll practices were overhauled.

  • Total settlement:    $587,500.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $193,875.00
  • Total costs:           $18,507.00

Paula Williams, et al. v. Dallas ISD, C.A. 3:04-cv-00396; United States District Court for Northern District of Texas—Dallas Division.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Dallas ISD on behalf of hourly employees such as maintenance workers, custodians, cafeteria employees, bus drivers, teacher’s aides. These workers were required to perform pre-shift and post-shift work without compensation.  Additionally, these workers alleged that they were required to work two or more jobs but the hours worked were not properly combined to ensure that the workers received overtime compensation.  The lawsuit settled for a substantial amount of money and resulted in changes to the compensation practices at Dallas ISD.

  • Total settlement:    $401,165.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $159,600.00
  • Total costs:           $4,282.00

Freddie Latin, et al. v. Aramark Services, Inc., C.A. H-09-858; United States District Court for Southern District of Texas—Houston Division.

This was a wage and hour lawsuit against Aramark Services, Inc. on behalf of all hourly offshore employees in Aramark’s Offshore Business Services Division.  These workers alleged that they weren’t properly compensated for time spent mobilizing and/or demobilizing, performing tasks before and/or after their scheduled shifts and for time spent attending pre- and post-shift safety meetings.  After conducting extensive audits of Aramark’s payroll practices, the parties were able to reach a substantial settlement which resolved the claims of the class members.

  • Total settlement:    $383,549.00
  • Attorneys’ fees:     $134,242.00
  • Total costs:           $2,500.00