According to the Washington Business Journal, employees of Panera Bread have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were not paid for hours of overtime worked as Assistant Managers for the restaurant chain. Specifically, the employees are claiming that they regularly worked as many as 60 hours per week without being paid overtime. The employees also claim that Panera purposefully and illegally misclassified them as exempt from the federal law time-and-a-half protections because their job duties were non-managerial in nature.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that is meant to protect employees from unfair labor practices and sets the rules for when an employee is entitled to overtime pay. Generally, an employee is entitled to overtime pay whenever the employee works more than 40 hours in a week in the amount of time and one half of their regular pay rate.
Who is Entitled to Overtime Pay?
There are certain situations in which an employee is not entitled to time and one half pay, and sometimes an employer will try to categorize an employee as one who is exempt from receiving premium pay for hours worked over 40. If an employee is a manager, the employee may not be entitled to overtime pay under the exemption for executives provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Fortunately, an employer cannot just call an employee a manager to avoid paying overtime, but instead there are certain requirements that must be met.
First, the employee must be compensated by a salary in the amount of at least $455 per week. Second, the employee’s primary duty must be one that is managerial in nature. Third, the employee must direct the work of other employees. Fourth, the employee must have the authority to hire and fire other employees. All four requirements must be met for an employee to be exempt from overtime pay.
Whether or not an employee is performing management duties will depend on the facts of a particular case, but generally management activities include duties such as making hiring and firing decisions, setting and adjusting pay rates, directing the activities of other employees, maintaining sales records and production records, handling employee complaints, planning and scheduling how work and when work should be performed, maintaining inventory, making purchasing decisions, handling legal compliance matters, and controlling and planning the budget of the company.
Have I Been Misclassified as Overtime Exempt?
In the Panera lawsuit, the employees are claiming that they were misclassified as exempt employees because their jobs were not managerial in nature, but instead were primarily that of non-managers including performing customer service duties, running the cash register, preparing food, and performing cleaning duties. If the Court determines that the Panera employees were not managers and that the executive exemption does not apply to them, the employees may be entitled to back-pay for overtime hours worked, liquidated damages, attorneys fees and any other compensation the Court deems appropriate.
It can be difficult to know whether you are entitled to be paid overtime wages, and if you think you are being treated unfairly by your employer in the Fort Worth, Texas area, contact Herrmann Law to speak with an experienced employment law attorney about your situation.