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Grocery Chain Publix Faces Overtime Lawsuit

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that governs things like the minimum wages employees can be paid, as well as when they should be paid overtime and how much they should be paid for overtime. States also have their own labor laws to govern minimum wage and overtime, among other issues, for all employees working within the state.

In addition to getting paid for all the hours they spend working, many employees expect to receive pay for a certain amount of time off and sometimes bonuses. Paid time off usually includes holidays that the employer is closed, but is still paying the employee. Many employers also give their workers a certain number of sick days or vacation days (sometimes both) for which the employee can be paid in a calendar year. This is all time for which employees can reasonably expect to be paid, and in some cases, the law requires them to be paid for this time.

Bonuses are also a common part of an employee’s pay, especially at the end of the year. In some industries, the amount of an employee’s bonus is determined by performance, for example, how much an employee made in sales throughout the year. In other industries, a bonus is a set amount given to the employees for the holiday season and to thank them for all the work they did throughout the year.

Publix is currently facing a wage and hour lawsuit that alleges the grocery company failed to properly pay its employees for overtime, “periodic bonuses, paid holidays, prizes, awards, and other cash payments.” Specifically, the lawsuit alleges Publix violated federal labor laws in regards to employees’ Christmas bonuses, six paid holidays, tuition reimbursement, and sharing and retail bonuses.

Violating labor law is one thing, but if a plaintiff can prove a defendant did so knowingly and intentionally, the defendant may end up facing a heavier fine if the plaintiff is successful in court. According to the recent class action lawsuit, Publix knew it was violating various federal labor laws when it based employees’ retail bonuses on store sales instead of the percentage of each individual employee’s total earnings.

Publix denies having done anything wrong. It insists the plaintiffs misunderstood the federal labor laws and came to faulty conclusions regarding the legality of Publix’s pay practices. According to Publix, “plaintiffs misstate the law, ignore controlling precedent, attempt to change an undisputed factual record and raise and respond to arguments that are not made by Publix.”

The “undisputed factual record” to which Publix refers is not yet clear according to the plaintiffs, but wage and hour lawsuits like this one are just another good reason for employers to keep good records of all time worked by employees, wages earned by those employees, wages paid to them, and wages withheld. Aside from the fact that the federal FLSA requires employers to keep these records, they also come in handy when facing a class action wage and hour lawsuit.

However, if the plaintiffs manage to prove Publix’s records are faulty or inaccurate, Publix could be faced with much higher fines if the plaintiffs win the court battle.

Our Rolling Meadows, Palatine and Waukegan overtime lawyers and attorneys are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

Nationwide Consumer Rights is based in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace. We represent clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (877) 990-4990 or through our online form.