The federal Fair Labor Standards Act stipulates specific guidelines for the kinds of duties an employee must perform in order to be legally classified as exempt from overtime pay by the employer. It goes one step further however, and specifies that such responsibilities must be considered the “primary duty” of the employee. Therefore, even though a manager has employees who report directly to her, if her “primary duties” consist of the same sort of work as hourly employees, then she cannot be legally exempted from the proper overtime compensation.
Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and it alleges that Chipotle misclassified its Apprentices and Assistant Managers as exempt from overtime. In fact, according to the complaint, the workers did not fulfill the requirements for exemption from proper overtime pay as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lead plaintiff worked as an Apprentice for Chipotle and alleges that he was regularly required to work more than 40 hours per week. However, rather than receiving the proper overtime compensation of one and one-half times his normal hourly rate for each hour of overtime he worked, Scott alleges that he was paid a set salary regardless of how many hours he worked in a given workweek. Scott alleges that, despite carrying the job title of Apprentice, he spent the majority of his time at work providing customer service, working the line, preparing food items for the line, working the cash register, and other similar forms of manual labor. Such responsibilities are normally performed by non-exempt hourly employees and should be paid as such, regardless of the employee’s job title.
The lawsuit has been filed as a collective class action and it includes all current and former employees of Chipotle who were labeled as Apprentices or Assistant Managers and worked at one of 1,400 Chipotle locations all over the country. It is seeking the overtime wages that Chipotle failed to pay them, in addition to other categories of damages.
In a collective class action lawsuit, employees must opt in to the class in order to participate. This requires that they affirmatively sign a document, which states that they wish to be included in the lawsuit. In a class action lawsuit, on the other hand, all employees are assumed to be part of the class unless they actively opt out. Collective class actions must be certified. When the lawsuit is filed, the court is asked to certify a class of plaintiffs who are similarly situated. The court considers whether or not the case has a common policy which unites all of the plaintiffs into one group to determine the appropriateness of a collective class action. If this is the case, the claims of all of the plaintiffs can be resolved with common evidence. Before final certification, a judge will sometimes conditionally certify a case. Conditional certification allows the plaintiffs’ attorneys to send out notices to potential plaintiffs so they can choose whether or not they wish to participate as a member of the class.
In this case, U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter has conditionally certified the collective class action against Chipotle. This means that current and former apprentices and Assistant Managers of the restaurant chain can expect to see a notification from the plaintiffs’ attorneys in their mail soon.
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 Chipotle, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for misclassifying 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 Schaumburg and Aurora. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Naperville and Chicago Hts. 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.