The popular supermarket chain, Publix Super Markets Inc., has opted to resolve a collective action lawsuit claiming they failed to properly compensate its employees. Deli and bakery managers at the supermarket filed a collective action lawsuit in Georgia back in 2019 under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) alleging they were misclassified as exempt from receiving overtime pay. Over 1,600 people employed in managerial positions within Publix’s bakery, deli, or meat departments between October 2016 and April 2019 stand to benefit from the $7.2 million payout.
The lawsuit specifically alleged that department managers at the supermarket didn’t actually hold managerial responsibilities but rather their main duties were labor focused. Department managers spent the majority of their shifts cleaning, assisting customers, and stocking food, which are all job duties that make them eligible to receive overtime under the FLSA. Additionally, their job title of “manager” did not allow them to exercise any meaningful independent judgement and discretion in their position or over other employees. According to the judge presiding over the case, the settlement was “a fair, adequate, and reasonable compromise,” between both parties done in good faith to fully resolve the allegations.
Wrongly classifying employees as salaried and exempt from overtime is unfortunately not a new tactic used by employers. Companies will often avoid paying overtime to its employees by handing out managerial titles despite knowing they will not be able to exercise any managerial responsibilities. Instead, these misclassified employees will spend most of their shifts completing hands on hourly work and when they consistently work over 40 hours per week, the company won’t have to shell out overtime pay. If you’ve worked for a supermarket chain, or in a similar industry, and feel you may have been misclassified, call our firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, for a free and confidential consultation at (212) 300-0375. You can also find more information regarding your labor rights here.