Employees working in sales are not always eligible for overtime compensation when they work more than eight hours a day or forty hours a week, but employers can’t just give a worker the title of “sales representative” and think that’s enough to classify them as exempt from overtime.
Although the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does allow certain employees to be held exempt from the requirement to pay one and one-half times their normal hourly wage for overtime spent working, the legislation is very specific about the requirements employees need to meet in order to qualify for the exemption. Nevertheless, many employers are always looking for ways to save a buck and the methods they choose are not always legal. Misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime compensation, even when they don’t qualify, is a common way for employers to get the most amount of work out of their employees for the lowest cost.
According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Herr Foods Inc., the potato chip manufacturer allegedly violated the FLSA and Pennsylvania wage laws by refusing to pay their delivery drivers the proper overtime compensation when they worked more than forty hours a week. According to the complaint, the delivery drivers were called “route sales representatives” and were paid a salary in addition to a commission that was based on the sales the drivers made to retailers on their delivery routes. That method of payment allegedly did not cover proper overtime compensation for the drivers, who claim they worked 50 hours per week on average.
Kalvin D., a former employee of the snack maker, filed the class action overtime lawsuit against the Herr’s back in October 2013 on behalf of himself and all other similarly situated current and former drivers for the snack company. The class period extends from October 2005 to December 2012 and includes more than 1,000 members.
Herr’s and the class of plaintiffs recently agreed to settle the overtime lawsuit for $2 million. Given that the attorneys working on behalf of the plaintiffs agreed to do so on a contingency (meaning they only got paid if the plaintiffs won or the case settled), the motion to approve the settlement also asked the court to award the plaintiffs’ attorneys one third the amount of the settlement, plus $13,220.77 in legal costs incurred by filing the lawsuit.
The attorneys for the class of drivers believe they have done their duty in representing the interests of their clients, and that has been proven by the fact that none of the class members have objected to the terms of the settlement and only five have chosen to opt out.
There are many reasons class members might choose to opt out of a settlement agreement, even if they agree the terms are fair. They may want to reserve their right to pursue a related claim against Herr’s or, if they’re still working for Herr’s, they might not want to be associated with a lawsuit against their current employer, or even their former employer if they don’t want that dispute on their record.
A court judge needs to grant preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, and then final approval before the matter can be considered settled and payments can start going out.
The Chicago class action and employment law 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 Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Downers Grove and Crystal Lake overtime and employment 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 Oak Brook, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.