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Pilots Allegedly Misclassified as Managers to Avoid Paying Them Overtime


With the recession hitting many companies hard, it has become increasingly common to classify employees as exempt from overtime, even if they do not actually qualify for that exemption. With employment class action lawsuits on the rise, it is more important than ever for workers to understand what the requirements for qualifying for overtime exemption actually are in order to avoid allowing their employer to take advantage of them. It is equally important, if not more so, for employers to understand these requirements in order to avoid lengthy and expensive legal battles, not to mention bad press.

Although the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does allow for certain employees to be exempt from overtime, the FLSA has very strict standards for an employee to be classified as such. The employee must earn a salary of at least $23,600 and work in either an administrative, executive, or professional capacity. Rather than simply allowing companies to label their employees in these roles, the FLSA provides specific requirements for the duties an employee must perform in order to fit into one of these categories. To meet the administrative requirement, an employee must provide direct assistance to an executive. For the executive classification, an employee must manage and be directly responsible for the work of other employees. In order to fit into the professional category, an employee must perform work which requires a certain level of education or a particular set of skills.

The most recent case of alleged misclassification to hit the courts was filed in Baltimore against AAI Corp, a subsidiary of Textron Systems. The two plaintiffs, Eric Trembly of Simi Valley, California, and John C. Keenon of Lancaster, California, allege that the company misclassified them as exempt from overtime. According to the lawsuit, the work that the two men performed did not qualify them for overtime exemption under the FLSA.

Keenon worked as an ERMP pilot at AAI until he voluntarily left his job last year. Trembly is reportedly still working as an Extended Range Multi-Purpose Program pilot for AAI.

The pilots involved in the case are responsible for the operation of ground control systems for unmanned drones. The lawsuit alleges that AAI improperly classifies drone pilots as exempt from overtime. The lawsuit is seeking class action status on behalf of current and former employees of AAI who feel that they may have been similarly taken advantage of while working for AAI.

This is not the first time that AAI has faced legal action for allegedly failing to pay their employees the proper overtime compensation. Just last year, the company was brought to court for allegedly failing to provide the proper overtime pay to field service engineers. The engineers were responsible for the maintenance and repair of AAI’s unmanned surveillance aircraft or, as they are more commonly known, drones. The lawsuit was filed in a U.S. District Court in Baltimore and Washington state, in addition to a state court in Alaska. Without admitting to any wrongdoing, AAI agreed to pay a total of $1.6 million in compensation to settle the lawsuit.

The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large corporations such as CarMax and other auto dealer chains 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 Schaumburg and Mount Prospect. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Elmhurst and Glenview 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.