Russell Stover Sales Representatives Sue For Unpaid Overtime and Claim That They Are Manual Laborers Not Sales People
While the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 requires employers to appropriately compensate their workers for overtime, the Act also provides exceptions for that rule. Unfortunately, many employers take advantage of these exceptions by deliberately misclassifying employees in order to avoid providing them with the proper overtime compensation of on and one-half times their normal hourly rate of pay. Fortunately, the Fair Labor Standards Act has clear definitions for each of the exceptions it provides and the courts are careful to consider these definitions when workers take their employers to court over cases of alleged misclassifications
Some of the most common misclassifications include salaried employees in administrative, executive, or professional capacities. Many employers have stretched the truth, when it comes to the roles their employees fulfill, in order to fit them into one of these categories. Certain companies have also been accused of classifying their workers as independent contractors, rather than employees of the company.
In a similar category to independent contractors are sales representatives. In a recent case that made it as far as the Supreme Court, the Court ruled that sales representatives working for pharmaceutical companies were not eligible for overtime pay, even though the employees alleged that they spent more time promoting the drugs to doctors than actually selling them.
Most recently, employees working for Russell Stover Candies Inc. have filed a class action lawsuit against the company for allegedly misclassifying employees as sales representatives in order to avoid paying them overtime. The lawsuit has been filed in the U. S. District Court in Atlanta for the Northern District of Georgia by four former and five current employees of the company. The plaintiffs argue that, even though they were classified as sales representatives, they did not work primarily sales, and most of the sales work was not done by them, nor did they originate most of the sales.
Cheryl Carter, one of the plaintiffs, worked for the company from May 2005 to December 2012 as a "sales representative". She claims that the majority of her duties consisted primarily of manual labor and that she allegedly regularly worked overtime but was never compensated for it.
According to the lawsuit, the duties of the sales representatives included mostly receiving shipments, inspecting, unpacking, stocking, cleaning, processing credits and repairing display figures.
Many companies don't stop at merely misclassifying their employees to avoid paying overtime though. Some have also been known to manipulate time cards to make it appear as though employees did not work in excess of 40 hours in a week when, in fact, they did. According to the lawsuit, Russell Stover allegedly made "a fictitious calculation" that the employees worked no more than 40 hours per week when, in actuality, they worked significantly more than that.
Russell Stover Candies Inc. is a Missouri-based company with approximately 5,000 employees, about 170 of which are classified as sales representatives. The majority of its products are delivered and sold to retailers such as Wal-Mart and grocery stores. The nine plaintiffs are from Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi.