Fast-food franchisee Charter Foods owes unpaid overtime wages to individuals working as team members, shift leads and assistant general managers in the company’s more than 300 restaurants across 12 states, according to at least two proposed collective and class action complaints.
Filed against Charter Foods, Charter Central and Charter Foods North, the lawsuits out of Tennessee claim the defendants, who run a stable of Yum! Brands franchises that include Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, KFC, A&W and Pizza Hut, have run afoul of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Pennsylvania labor laws.
According to one suit, the defendants have failed to pay time-and-a-half overtime wages to team members and shift leads who were required to do unpaid work before and/or after their scheduled shift times in order to hit production quotas. The other complaint alleges Charter Foods and its co-defendants have wrongfully misclassified those working as assistant general managers as exempt from receiving overtime pay under state and federal wage and hour laws.
Echoing the first case, the second lawsuit claims assistant general managers have been required by the defendants to perform unpaid work outside of their scheduled shift times in order to meet quotas set by corporate.
“Defendants have required those employed as Assistant General Managers to arrive early and/or stay late, beyond their paid, scheduled shift, in order to reach product quota established by Charter Foods and its corporate family,” the complaint claims.
The plaintiffs from the team member/shift lead lawsuit say workers in those roles were responsible for tasks ranging from housekeeping, customer service and cash handling to food preparation and other non-exempt daily work. Team members and shift leads are required to clock in and out at the beginning and end of each shift and are theoretically not allowed to work off the clock, per the case.
Nevertheless, Charter Foods team members and shift leads are “routinely” required and/or allowed to work prior to and after their scheduled shift times, bumping their daily hours beyond eight and weekly hours in excess of 40, the case claims. For team members and shift leads who stayed on the clock for post-shift work, a restaurant’s general managers would adjust their hours from the defendants’ centralized payroll system to ensure they would not be paid, the lawsuit alleges.
“Team Members and Shift Leads are never compensated, at a straight rate or overtime rate, for the time they are required to work either ‘on the clock’ or ‘off the clock’ for the work performed before and after their eight (8) hour workday or forty (40) hour workweek,” the plaintiffs, former Taco Bell employees, claim. “It is common for Team Member and Shift Leads to be required to work in excess of twelve (12) hours each workday shift or sixty (60) hours each workweek without proper compensation.”
Per the suit, as many as 6,000 team members and/or shift leads may have been affected by the defendants’ alleged conduct nationwide.
The lawsuit centered on assistant general managers alleges employees working for the Yum! Brands franchisees in that role were required to arrive early and/or stay late, beyond their paid, scheduled shift times. The plaintiffs claim assistant managers must work 50 hours per week in a schedule “that gives the appearance that no more than fifty (50) hours are worked.”
In truth, however, assistant general managers are “routinely” required to put in significant time prior to and after their scheduled shifts, often eclipsing 60 hours or more per week while being told not to stay on the clock, the suit alleges. According to the case, the defendants’ area coaches and district managers, in conjunction with the companies’ executive leadership, would remove assistant managers’ hours from Charter Foods’ centralized payroll system.
“Assistant General Managers are never compensated, at a straight rate or overtime rate, for the time they are required to work either ‘on the clock’ or ‘off the clock’ in excess of their fifty (50) hour workweek, nor are they compensated at an overtime rate for any hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours in a workweek,” the lawsuit says. “It is common for Assistant General Managers to be required to work in excess of fifteen (15) hours each workday shift or seventy-five (75) hours each workweek without being compensated beyond their annual rate of pay.”
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