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BJ’S Wholesale Sued in Unpaid Overtime Class Action for Allegedly Misclassifying Hourly Workers as Managers


Whether a manager qualifies for overtime exemption under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a tricky question for many employers and employees. Due to their status as manager, many people assume that they do qualify for the overtime exemption under the executive category. However, the FLSA specifies that more than just the employee’s job title is required in order to qualify her for overtime exemption. The Act also takes into consideration the employee’s main responsibilities. If the employee is a manager, but spends the majority of her time at work fulfilling the duties of hourly employees, then she cannot be classified as exempt from overtime compensation.

This issue seems to arise frequently in the retail industry and has recently done so again. A class of allegedly misclassified managers have filed a wage and hour class action lawsuit against BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc., one of the largest food retailers in the United States. The wage and hour lawsuit alleges that the employees were “required” to work more than forty hours a week without the proper overtime compensation. There are only a few positions at BJ’s which were classified as exempt from overtime, but the lawsuit alleges that these employees were misclassified.

The wage and hour lawsuit is asking the court to certify a class of employees who have worked for BJ’s since July 19, 2009 with job titles such as loss prevention manager, asset protection manager, and personnel manager. The lawsuit, which was filed in June 2012 in Massachusetts, is also seeking certification of a subclass of employees who worked for BJ’s in fifteen states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Main, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. The lawsuit alleges that, by misclassifying a number of its managers, BJ’s Wholesale Club knowingly and intentionally violated the FLSA, in addition to state labor laws.

BJ’s has recently agreed to settle the lawsuit for $2.7 million. The settlement is currently awaiting approval by the court.

Many people are unaware of the specific requirements the FLSA provides for overtime exemption. Rather than looking solely at job titles, the Act carefully considers the employee’s main responsibilities to determine if she qualifies for overtime exempt status. For example, an administrative employee must provide administrative support directly to an executive in order to qualify for the overtime exemption. For the executive category, an employee’s main duties must consist of managing other employees who report directly to her. If an employee managers hourly employees, but spends the majority of her time performing the same duties as other hourly employees, then she does not qualify for overtime exempt status under the FLSA. The third category for overtime exemption is professional and that requirement is fulfilled when the employee needs a particular set of skills or education in order to perform her job. The FLSA mandates that any employee who does not meet these qualifications is entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for each hour that they work in excess of eight hours a day or forty hours a week.

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, Dominick’s, 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 Arlington Hts. and Joliet. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Oak Lawn and River Forest 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.