LOS ANGELES — Jewel Garner, a former paralegal with DineEquity Inc., the parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants, filed a wage suit against the company for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the California Labor Code. Garner was fired in February of 2015 after her supervisors claimed that she withheld information about a franchise deal. When she took issue with the assertion, and after she expressed concern about her treatment at an interdepartmental meeting in front of other employees, she was placed on leave and ultimately fired. The suit is a proposed collective action on behalf on current and former employees who may have been misclassified as exempt from overtime compensation. She also alleges racial discrimination and claims that black employees were held to different standards as compared with other workers.
According to the suit, DineEquity intentionally misclassified Garner as an exempt employee in an attempt to skirt overtime requirements. The company apparently used her title as a manager of franchise compliance as justification for exempting her from overtime even though she is a manager in name alone. Garner alleges that she remained a paralegal whose duties were to make sure that new and existing franchises complied with franchise law in the jurisdictions in which the company maintained franchise restaurants.
Exemption for Managers
Managers may be considered exempt under FLSA’s Executive Employee exemption if:
- The employee is compensated on a salary basis at a rate not less than $455 per week;
- The employee’s primary duties are managing the business of the company, or managing a normally-recognized department or subdivision of the company;
- The employee customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and
- The employee has the authority to hire or fire other employees, or their suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion, or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight.
Merely calling an employee a “manager” is likely insufficient. Job titles do not determine status as an exempt employee. In order for an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet the above-referenced FLSA requirements.
If you or someone you know is misclassified as exempt and therefore not paid overtime as required by FLSA, you should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page. Our top rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.