According to Tire Business (11/11/13), the lawsuit claims workers were intentionally misclassified as assistant managers so the company could avoid paying them proper overtime wages. Overtime is required for employees who work more than 40 hours in a calendar week, under Washington State wage and hour laws, but employees who were classified as assistant managers reportedly regularly worked 12-hour days and six-day weeks without being paid overtime.
Misclassification to avoid overtime pay is a common employment complaint. Many employers do not realize that it is not the job title but the duties of the job that determine whether an employee should be classified as exempt from overtime pay. As such, even if employees are given the designation of assistant manager, if their duties are tasks that would normally be carried out by an hourly employee and if they have little or no discretion or authority in their role, then they are not exempt from overtime pay. The Les Schwab lawsuit alleges employees were responsible for changing light bulbs and sweeping the parking lot, not duties normally associated with a managerial role.
Tire Business notes that Les Schwab has already faced lawsuits concerning misclassification of employees. The Oregonian (2/9/12) reports that a jury in Oregon found for a class of more than 200 current and former Les Schwab employees who said they were misclassified as assistant managers. The jury agreed that the plaintiffs deserved overtime compensation for working up to 66 hours a week. At the time, the company said it would appeal the decision.
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The Gerard lawsuit alleged that employees misclassified as store managers were “primarily involved in customer service, selling and production work such as changing tires or fixing brakes, and related non-exempt functions. They are not employed to manage Defendants’ enterprise in managerial duties, and their actual time in such managerial duties comprise only a small percentage of their actual daily job duties.” As a result, the lawsuit alleged, the work store managers were doing was non-exempt store work.
According to information from the Sacramento Superior Court, the Gerard lawsuit in California is awaiting final approval of a class-action settlement.