BOSTON — The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has decided that a wage suit filed by two Dunkin’ Donuts store managers in Massachusetts should go to trial. The plaintiffs had filed suit claiming that they were deprived of overtime pay they were entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Initially, the federal district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee that employed the plaintiffs. However, with the court of appeals decision, the case will go back to the district court for trial.
Misclassification as Managers
The plaintiffs in this case were hired as managers at two Dunkin Donuts franchise stores in Massachusetts, both owned by Cadete Enterprises. The plaintiffs had signed manager agreements with Cadete which stated that they were expected to work no less than a six-day, 48-hour work week. However, the plaintiffs allege that store managers often worked more than sixty hours, in part because they substitute for crew members who are out sick or miss a shift for other reasons. According to the lawsuit, the managers’ responsibilities include calibrating the equipment to company specifications, handling cash, keeping the store and grounds properly maintained, training and supervising the employees, periodically counting all non-perishable items in the store, and substantial paperwork. Because of the duties that each of the managers performed, the plaintiffs claimed that they are on the floor 90% of the time doing non-managerial duties and did not have time to perform managerial tasks.
Cadete enterprises filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that both plaintiffs fell under FLSA’s overtime-pay exemption for employees serving in an executive capacity. The district court agreed, and found that they were exempt from overtime. However, on appeal, the federal district court found that the issue of whether they were exempt should be decided by a jury.
For an employee to qualify under FLSA’s executive exemption, they must meet certain criteria:
- The employee is paid 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, on a regular and customary basis, directs 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.
Employers cannot skirt their obligations to pay overtime under FLSA by classifying employees as managers if they do not, in fact, perform those executive functions required by the law to qualify. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel that you have been deprived of your wage rights. 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.