Tyson Prepared Foods, Inc, one of the world’s largest meat packaging and processing companies, has been sued for unpaid overtime wages. On June 23, 2020, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, and Shellist Lozarz Slobin LLP filed an amended complaint that alleges Tyson failed to pay its Production Supervisors overtime and related damages with regard to wage violations. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), a federal law, these employees may be entitled to recover overtime for their tie spent working at the company. Employees who could be eligible to join this matter include current and former Production Supervisors employed by Tyson nationwide during the last three years who were paid with a salary and who did not receive overtime pay.
The lawsuit specifically claims that Production Supervisors were misclassified as salaried workers exempt from receiving overtime but should have been considered hourly employees earning overtime when they consistently worked over 40 hours per week. Tyson has allegedly been using a workers job title to dictate their overtime eligibility instead of their job duties as required by the FLSA. In this case, the label of “Supervisor” has been incorrectly given to Production Supervisors who cannot actually hire, fire or make schedules for other employees the company claims they supervise. In fact, the lawsuit alleges they spend up to ninety percent of their shifts like the rest of the hourly workers setting up production line workstations, restocking supplies, cutting and processing meat products, operating grinding/cutting machines, operating cooking machines, sorting meat products, packing meat products, moving meat products throughout the processing plants, and stacking boxes. Production Supervisors also worked extremely long work weeks often hitting 80 hours per week due to their seven day work schedules. As a result, they did not receive all the overtime pay they were entitled to receive under the FLSA. You can also view the filed complaint here.
On October 23, 2020, these affected employees also filed an expedited motion for conditional certification as a class and to have notice of the lawsuit sent out to other Production Supervisors who may be eligible to participate. If the judge approves this motion it would allow these employees to bring this action for overtime compensation on behalf of other employees that are similarly situated and notify them about the matter and choose to “opt-in” or bring a claim on their own behalf. These court- authorized notices are helpful in protecting both parties and often lead to an expedited resolution of the dispute. Production Supervisors believe they should be conditionally certified as a class because regardless of the processing plant or division within a plant to which they are assigned to, their job duties do not change. They all have similar job duties consisting of non-exempt work related to production line work which does not require an advanced degree. The workers who brought the case believe that other Production Supervisors would be interested in learning about their rights and their ability to join this case. To view the Expedited Motion for Conditional Certification and Notice you can click here.
Overtime exemption misclassifications are more common than you may think. Many industries often misclassify employees as exempt from receiving overtime in order to cut on labor costs at the employee’s expense. Certain job titles are given so the worker is categorized as a salaried employee and the employer doesn’t have to pay overtime. The law actually requires overtime eligibility to be based on the nature of the duties completed and not your actual job title. If your job title labels you as a “supervisor” or “manager” it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t entitled to overtime. If you find that you are constantly working over forty hours per week without overtime, regardless of your job title, don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, for a free and confidential phone consultation at (212) 300-0375 or visit our website for additional information regarding your rights.