BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bank anti-money laundering investigators filed a putative collective action for overtime wages in Alabama federal court recently. The lawsuit alleges Regions Financial Corp. and Regions Bank violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when they failed to pay overtime wages. As the collective action is “putative,” the affected class has not officially been defined. But the class is believed to include anyone who was or is employed by Regions as a Bank Security Act/Anti-Money Laundering investigator in the last three years.
Investigator Job Duties
Regions’ investigators’ responsibilities included investigating the “suspicious activity” assignments regarding potential money laundering and terrorist financing they received from various bank departments and reporting their findings. Each assignment was to be investigated and a report submitted within 30 days. The investigators claim they were given more assignments than could be completed in a 40 hour work week. In order to meet deadlines, the lawsuit claims investigators worked between 50 and 60 hours a week. The lawsuit alleges the bank knew the investigators could not meet the assignment deadlines without working overtime, which the bank knew it did not have to pay because the investigators were classified as exempt.
Misclassified as “Exempt”
According to the lawsuit, the investigators were wrongfully classified as “exempt.” Exempt employees are not covered by minimum wage and overtime laws. However, nonexempt employees are protected under those laws and employers must pay them at least minimum wage and time and a half for any time worked beyond a 40 hour work week. The investigators argue Regions either knew or should have known the investigators were not exempt based on FLSA exemption requirements.
There are five primary exempt categories under the FLSA: executive, administrative, professional, computer employee, and outside sales. The investigators are clearly not performing outside sales or computer employee programing or maintenance. And, while they are likely very professional and knowledgeable, fraud investigation usually does not fall under the learned professional category. This means to be exempt they were either executives/managers or they were administrative employees. For these two exemptions, the FLSA requires employers look at an employee’s job responsibilities, independence in decision making, and authority over others.
The investigators make no claims that they supervised others, had authority to make decisions on how to proceed if suspicious activity was found or suspected, or that they could decide which assignments to take. This lack of authority and decision making independence does seem to indicate they are nonexempt and should receive overtime pay.
Determining if you have been misclassified as exempt can be complicated. Contact our knowledgeable team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our experienced legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.