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Clarks Shoes Retail Workers Bring Wage and Hour Class Suit


The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guarantees that all employees working in the U.S. are to be paid no less than the federal minimum wage. The Act also provides premium overtime compensation of one and one-half times the employee’s normal hourly wages for all time spent working after eight hours a day and forty hours in a week.

However, the FLSA does provide some exceptions to this rule. Employees who are paid a salary of more than $23,600 per year and fill an administrative, executive, or professional position, can qualify as exempt from overtime compensation. Under the law, though, these employees need more than just a salary and a job title in order to qualify for the exemption. The FLSA specifies the types of duties that employees covered by the exemption must perform.

For the administrative category, an employee has to perform mostly office work and provide administrative assistance directly to an executive. In order to qualify under the executive category, an employee’s duties must consist mostly of managing other employees and having a say in who gets hired and fired, as well as the authority to discipline employees. Workers in the professional category must perform a job which requires a particular set of skills, or level of education. Workers such as doctors, lawyers, artists, and musicians fit into the professional category.

Sometimes employers get confused (or deliberately misinterpret the law), and classify employees as exempt from overtime, even when they do not meet any of the above qualifications. Because many employees are unfamiliar with the specifics of employment law, these transgressions often continue without employees filing lawsuits.

Recently, Harriette Tapia, a store manager working for Clarks Shoes in California, filed a class action wage and hour lawsuit against the retail store for allegedly failing to pay her, and other store managers, overtime. According to the lawsuit, Clarks allegedly counted the commissions that store managers were paid towards their overtime pay, which Tapia claims is against the law.

Judge Frederick C. Shaller, of the Los Angeles Superior Court, tentatively dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Tapia admitted that she earned more than half her pay from commissions. As a result, Judge Shaller determined that Tapia was qualified for the “inside retail sales” overtime exemption.

Tapia also alleges that Clarks failed to provide store managers with meal and rest breaks. Under California labor law, all employers are required to provide their workers with a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours of work. For every five hours worked, the law mandates that employers must provide an unpaid meal break lasting at least half an hour. For every day that one of these breaks is missed, the employer must pay the worker one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all wages earned that day.

Tapia alleges that Clarks failed to provide these breaks, and failed to provide the compensatory extra pay as required by state law. The judge also tentatively dismissed these claims because Tapia could not remember when she might have had to skip these breaks, but she has asked the judge to consider the claims of other store managers in regards to work breaks.  Clarks denies all of Tapia’s claims and takes the position it did not violate the law or do anything wrong.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, 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, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, 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.