Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Landmark Ruling Nets Worker Back Pay
A San Francisco clothing store manager was awarded two years back pay by the California Supreme Court in a landmark ruling that will affect "hundreds of thousands of white-collar workers in industries such as retail, food service, insurance and banking who are called managers or assistant managers but who spend much of their day ringing up sales, stocking shelves or sweeping the floor alongside the workers they oversee." Since the manager spent most of his ten hour days performing non-supervisory duties such as "covering the sales floor, processing markdowns and emptying the garbage," the court agreed that he had been "misclassified" by overly restrictive rules intended to disqualify managers from overtime pay. He was also denied the 30 minute unpaid meal break per each five hours of work, and the 10 minute paid rest break per each four hours of work, that are mandated by California law - and he was compensated for these as well. Like many of us, he was compelled to gobble down his midday sustenance while answering office email and voicemail. On at least one occasion, he was denied a break even to go to the bathroom.
According to The Los Angeles Times, "class-action lawsuits by employees seeking back pay for overtime and missed breaks have risen dramatically over the last decade, and lawyers predicted that Monday's ruling would encourage more suits and possibly lead another attempt to change labor laws and regulations." Many of these lawsuits have resulted in settlements. Last year, IBM paid $65 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that 32,000 computer technicians had been denied overtime pay by the corporation. RadioShack, Bank of America, Rite-Aid and AllState have all paid settlements in similar lawsuits to compensate employees for lost overtime pay due to misclassification as "managers."
"Employees win major ruling on pay regulations" from The Los Angeles Times