Publix Super Markets, Inc. faces a proposed collective action over its alleged misclassification of certain department managers as overtime-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The case concerns Publix deli, bakery and meat managers given the title of “Department Manager” who were allegedly classified as overtime-exempt before April 2019. The lawsuit claims that the employees often worked over 40 hours in a week yet were not provided with time-and-a-half overtime pay due to their improper managerial exemption under FLSA standards. Moreover, the defendant also failed to keep accurate records of all hours worked, the case alleges.
According to the complaint, Publix department managers were not given the type of executive responsibilities that typically accompany overtime-exempt jobs, including tasks that require the “exercise of meaningful judgment and discretion.” Department managers’ duties consisted primarily of manual tasks typically reserved for non-exempt employees, such as preparing and stocking food, servicing customers and cleaning, the lawsuit says.
According to the case, the duties of overtime-exempt workers typically include:
Hiring or firing employees;
Scheduling employee hours;
Supervising employees; and
Publix internally classified department managers across all stores as exempt in an attempt to avoid paying overtime, the case alleges. Although this was done company-wide, Publix, the lawsuit alleges, did not conduct a person-by-person analysis of department managers’ job duties before deciding how to classify employees. Moreover, Publix, according to the case, knew the employees should have rightly been classified as non-exempt yet “intentionally, willfully and repeatedly” violated the FLSA by misclassifying department managers as exempt.