Because HR managers are generally more knowledgeable about employment law than most employees, it is usually part of their job to make sure that the company obeys all of these laws. HR managers also tend to be exempt from overtime, as they usually fit the requirements for the administrative category for overtime exemption. For these reasons, it is unusual to see an HR manager filing a lawsuit against her own employer for unpaid overtime. However, recent cases suggest that situations like this might actually be on the rise. One such lawsuit was filed by Lizeth Lytle against Lowe’s Home Center’s, Inc. Lytle is an HR manager and is filing the class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and all other HR managers for Lowe’s who were allegedly misclassified as overtime exempt and worked overtime.
While the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires all employers to pay their employees the proper overtime compensation for all of the time that they work in excess of eight hours a day or forty hours a week, there are some exceptions to this rule. While those exceptions are broadly labeled as administrative, executive, and professional, merely having one of these labels is not sufficient to qualify for the overtime exemption. Rather, the FLSA provides specific requirements which an employee must be able to fulfill in order to fit into one of the categories.
For the administrative category, an employee must perform office work which is directly related to the management or the general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers. The employee must also exercise independent judgment about matters of significance as a primary part of her job. In order to fit into the executive category, an employee must supervise at least two other employees, have genuine input into the job status of these employees, and managing must be her primary responsibility. Employees working in “learned professions” qualify for overtime exemption under the professional category as provided by the FLSA. This includes employees who require a particular education or set of skills in order to perform their jobs, such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, architects, etc.
Lytle worked as an HR manager at a Lowe’s store and claims that she was classified as exempt from overtime under the administrative category. She alleges, though, that her job duties were not sufficient to qualify her for the exemption. She allegedly did not exercise the necessary level of independent discretion and judgment necessary to meet the exemption and all meaningful employment decisions were made by employees that held higher positions in the HR department. Lytle alleges that “Each store [Human Resources] Manger required the approval of the Area Manager of the Store Manager when it came to making any decisions affecting the store or Lowe’s.” Ltyle also alleges that “All [Human Resource] managers were required to work overtime.”
Lytle provided the declarations of about 60 current and former HR managers for Lowe’s to support her allegations against her employer. These included HR managers who worked at Lowe’s locations other than the store Lytle worked at to prove that the problem is company-wide and not an isolated incident.
The lawsuit is seeking compensation for unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and other costs, and an injunction to prohibit Lowe’s from continuing these illegal employment practices in the future. The court certified the class and the wage and hour lawsuit can now proceed as a class action.
You can read the opinion here.
The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Jewel, Lowes, Home Depot, Aldi, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Walmart and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, 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 this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Illinois overtime attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Aurora and Joliet. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Hoffman Estates and Naperville 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 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.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents 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 (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.