TAMPA — Human resource managers in a class and collective action against Lowe’s Home Centers Inc. will continue their overtime lawsuit, but with fewer claims, after a recent federal court decision. The lawsuit, initially filed in August 2012, received conditional collective action certification for the FLSA claim in January. It is now set for a jury trial in June 2015.
The lawsuit claimed Lowe’s violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in its misclassification of HR managers. It also claimed the misclassification led to multiple violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The court dismissed the ERISA claims, but allowed the FLSA claims to go forward.
The Managers’ Claims
Lizeth Lytle, who filed the lawsuit, claims the company classified its HR managers as exempt, which denied them overtime pay for all of the hours worked over 40 hours a week. Under the FLSA, employers are required to look at an employee’s responsibilities and duties, not their job title when determining whether the employee is exempt or nonexempt. Exempt managerial employees will have significant authority over others and decision making responsibilities. Lytle claims the HR managers, even though called managers, did not have the authority to make substantial decisions or to supervise other employees. According to the lawsuit, the HR managers were responsible for many non-managerial duties like cleaning bathrooms and floors, cash register operations, and greeting customers. There are nearly 1,800 Lowes’ employees classified as HR managers who could be eligible to join the collective action.
Ramifications of Misclassification
Employee responsibilities and authority can vary greatly and employers may intentionally misclassify employees to avoid overtime requirements, but many may do so inadvertently. Exemption misclassifications frequently violate both state and federal laws. Misclassification may also lead to other labor law related violations, as was claimed with ERISA in this case.
ERISA claims can be connected with FLSA violations. However, the Florida federal court’s decision for dismissing the ERISA claims, in this case, is based on the calculation methods of
ERISA contribution as opposed to FLSA overtime, not misclassification. ERISA contributions are a percentage based on the amount of money an employee earns. For instance, an employee might contribute 1% of each paycheck into a 401(k). FLSA overtime pay, on the other hand, is based on the number of hours worked each week. Misclassifying an employee as exempt will mean that employee will not receive overtime pay for work beyond 40 hours each week, but it will not necessarily affect the percent contributed under ERISA.
Determining if you have been misclassified as exempt and what claims you may be entitled to can be complicated. Contact our experienced 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 and your legal options. 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.