State and federal labor laws exist to protect all employees working within the United States. They make sure employers don’t take advantage of their workers by regulating things like minimum wage, overtime, and what constitutes compensable time.
Labor laws also forbid employers from requiring workers to cover business expenses. All business-related expenses should be covered by the employer. If a situation arises in which an employee must pay for something for the business, the employer is required to reimburse the employee in a timely manner (usually by the next pay period). According to a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit against Cracker Barrel, the restaurant chain allegedly failed to fulfill these reimbursements. The chain denies all of the claims and asserts it complied with the law.
The lawsuit was filed by Kenneth P., who works as an assistant manager in one of Cracker Barrel’s upstate New York locations. Kenneth alleges he and other assistant managers were forced to use their own vehicles to make delivery and pick-ups for the company. Under New York labor law, Cracker Barrel should have compensated its employees for the cost of gas and maintenance on their vehicles, but Kenneth alleges the restaurant did no such thing.
The lawsuit also alleges Cracker Barrel misclassified its assistant managers as exempt from overtime. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), all hourly employees are entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. The Act does provide exceptions to the overtime rule, but it is very specific about the types of employees that can qualify for the exemption.
Managers are one of the categories of employees that can be exempted from overtime, but only if they spend the majority of their time managing other employees and have significant say in the hiring, firing, and disciplining of those employees. The class action lawsuit against Cracker Barrel alleges the assistant managers did not meet these requirements, but were still classified as overtime exempt.
Kenneth is seeking certification of a class of plaintiffs in which he would represent himself and all other current and former assistant managers of Cracker Barrel. The lawsuit is seeking certification of a nationwide class, which could consist of more than 2,000 members, and a New York class, which would consist of about 100 members.
Kenneth and Cracker Barrel have agreed to settle the wage and hour lawsuit. The details of the settlement have not yet been revealed, but Judge D’Agostino officially announced to the court that the lawsuit was settled or in the process of being settled. By the request of both parties, Judge D’Agostino dismissed the wage and hour lawsuit without prejudice, but he gave permission to both parties to re-open the case within 90 days of the settlement. The 90-day window was put in place in case the terms of the settlement are not met, or in case either party is unsatisfied. However, the plaintiff’s lawyers have said they feel confident the settlement will hold and that it is favorable toward their clients.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Bollingbrook and Jolet. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Palatine and Glenview overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify 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.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.