Thank you to the supermarket managers who reached out about how they were compensated for the overtime hours they worked. At this time, the investigation is closed.
For information about your specific situation and what options you have going forward, we encourage you to speak with an attorney in your area. You can read up on the resources available when it comes to finding and researching class action attorneys here.
The U.S. Department of Labor provides general information on how workers should be compensated for the overtime hours they work, which you can find on this page. You can also find a list of our open investigations here.
At A Glance
This Investigation Affects:
Supermarket managers who worked overtime and were either only paid half-time or didn't receive any extra wages at all.
What's Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are speaking with supermarket managers across the country who say they've been cheated out of proper overtime pay. They're trying to help these employees file lawsuits to collect their unpaid wages.
What Started This Investigation?
A number of supermarkets, including Publix and Fresh Market, have been sued for failing to pay their managers proper overtime wages. They've paid out millions to settle these cases.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are interested in hearing from supermarket managers who weren’t paid time-and-a-half wages when working more than 40 hours per week.
They have reason to believe that some chains aren’t complying with federal and state labor laws when paying their managers. As a result, these workers are missing out on hundreds or thousands of dollars.
What Started This Investigation?
A number of supermarkets, including Publix, Fresh Market and Price Chopper, were sued for allegedly failing to pay their managers proper overtime pay.
It is believed these workers aren’t receiving full overtime wages either because:
They’re on a fluctuating workweek schedule and only getting “half-time”
They’ve been misclassified as “exempt” (ineligible to collect overtime) even though they don’t carry out the tasks that make most managers exempt. This may include hiring and firing workers.
Below, we’ve described these two types of overtime schemes.
Federal law says that some people can be paid on a fluctuating workweek schedule. This means they receive the same amount of pay per week, regardless of the number of hours worked. Workers on this schedule are only entitled to “half-time” for any overtime they work.
It is believed, however, that some supermarkets are paying department managers on the fluctuating workweek schedule even when they shouldn’t be. There are strict requirements for who can and cannot be paid like this – and some supermarkets may be taking advantage of this pay schedule to cheat managers out of proper overtime pay.
For instance, in a lawsuit against Fresh Market, the upscale chain’s department managers claimed that they shouldn’t have been paid on a fluctuating workweek schedule because:
There wasn’t – as required by federal law – a “clear, mutual understanding” that they would be paid as “fluctuating workweek” employees.
The way they were paid wasn’t compatible with the typical “fluctuating workweek” schedule. This is because many of these workers received bonuses, with their employers all but admitting that the managers weren’t being paid a fixed amount of compensation.
Misclassifying Managers as “Exempt”
Under federal law, most managers and assistant managers are, in fact, ineligible to collect overtime. These managers, however, must perform the job duties listed under the executive exemption, such as hiring and firing other employees, to be truly ineligible for overtime. They can’t just be managers in title. It is believed that some supermarkets are deliberately “promoting” workers to “manager” or “assistant manager” titles – without ever changing their job duties – in an attempt to cheat these workers out of overtime pay.
“Managers” and “assistant managers” who are still performing jobs like stocking shelves, greeting customers and operating cash registers may be misclassified and getting cheated out of extra pay when working more than 40 hours per week.
Have These Lawsuits Been Successful?
Yes. While every case is different, here are some recent settlements:
In 2016, Fresh Market paid out $5 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed it illegally paid department managers half-time and instead of time-and-a-half for their overtime hours.
In 2015, Publix paid out $30 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed it paid department and assistant managers overtime based on the fluctuating workweek, depriving them of full overtime wages.
In 2011, Kroger settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount to resolve claims that it misclassified its managers as “exempt” from overtime pay.