Kroger Co. is the largest operator of traditional supermarkets in the United States. It employs more than 422,000 workers and operates about 2,775 stores in 35 states across the country, plus the District of Columbia. The more employees a company manages the more careful it has to be to make sure it’s abiding by all the relevant labor laws.
In the United States the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects all employees working throughout the country. It provides a federal minimum wage, defines overtime as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week, and requires a premium overtime compensation of one and one-half times the employee’s normal hourly rate for all overtime worked. The FLSA does allow for certain exceptions to the overtime law, but it is very specific about the types of workers that can qualify for the overtime exemption.
Under the FLSA, an employee can be considered exempt from overtime if she fits into either the administrative, executive, or professional category. Rather than simply allowing employers to label their workers as they see fit, the FLSA provides specific qualifications employees must meet in order to be legally considered exempt from overtime.
In order to qualify for the administrative category, an employee must perform primarily office work and provide administrative assistance directly to an executive. For the executive category, an employee must spend the majority of her time at work managing other employees, be able to discipline those employees, and have direct say in the hiring and firing of those employees. The professional category consists of workers whose jobs require a particular set of skills or level of education to complete: such as artists and attorneys.
In addition to the FLSA, each state and city has their own labor laws, including minimum wage and overtime regulations. Any company conducting business in the United States must be sure to abide by all the relevant federal, state, and city labor laws.
Three former employees of Kroger allege they were illegally misclassified as exempt from overtime, even though they allegedly did not meet the requirements for the overtime exemption. Joseph H., Derek C., and Madeline H. all worked as recruiters in a Kroger call center located in Blue Ash, Ohio. All three plaintiffs worked for Kroger for less than a year and all of them left the company last year.
According to the class action wage and hour lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege they were all regularly required to work more than forty hours a week and that their managers knew they were working these long hours. But the employees allege they were never paid for the overtime they worked, much less paid the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate. As a result, the class action lawsuit is alleging violations of the FLSA as well as the Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act.
The wage and hour lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs’ jobs consisted of calling online job applicants and asking them three questions in order to screen them for possible employment at Kroger. They were then responsible for arranging interviews for applicants who provided satisfactory answers at the store to which they applied. None of the work described in the complaint qualifies the plaintiffs or other call center employees for exemption from overtime compensation.
Our Chicago Oak Brook and Naperville wage and hour attorneys and unpaid 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. We represent call center workers who are forced to work overtime but are not paid time and half 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 630-333-0333 or through our online form.