A proposed collective action lawsuit claims the operators of Fry’s Food and Drug stores misclassified assistant managers as exempt from overtime pay despite requiring the employees to perform mostly non-managerial duties.
Filed against The Kroger Company, one of the largest grocers in the world, and Smith’s Food & Drug Centers, Inc., the lawsuit explains the defendants operate more than 120 Fry’s Food and Drug stores across Arizona. The case claims that although the defendants consider assistant managers to be exempt from time-and-a-half overtime pay, the workers are not responsible for true managerial responsibilities and are tasked instead with the same duties as non-exempt employees. The plaintiff, who worked as an assistant manager at a Fry’s Food and Drug store in Phoenix, says he typically worked 50 to 60 hours per week serving customers, operating the cash register, stocking merchandise, counting inventory, and cleaning yet was never paid time-and-a-half wages for the hours he worked in excess of 40 each week.
The lawsuit claims the defendants purposely underfunded store labor budgets and placed the burden of working overtime on assistant managers instead of staffing enough non-exempt employees to perform the required non-managerial duties. From the complaint:
“Defendants knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that their underfunding of store labor budgets resulted in Plaintiff and the members of the putative AM Collective (who were not paid overtime) working more than forty (40) hours in a workweek without receiving any overtime compensation. This allowed Defendants to avoid paying additional wages (including overtime) to the non-exempt, store-level employees.”
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone employed by the defendants in the United States as an assistant manager (or comparable salaried position) “during the relevant time period.”