Managers’ Claims For Overtime Pay Proceed to Trial

By Candace D. Embry Apr 1, 2016

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Two former Dunkin’ Donuts managers’ claims for overtime compensation can proceed to trial because the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA’s) bona fide executive exemption might not apply to them, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

The managers, who worked in Massachusetts, were salaried employees expected to work no fewer than 48 hours over six days each week. Generally, the FLSA requires employers to pay workers one and a half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. However, the act provides exceptions, one of which excludes employees who work in a bona fide executive capacity—that is, those who have management as their “primary duty” and who have authority to hire, fire or otherwise change the employment status of other employees.

Professional Pointer

Make sure that the managers or executives whom you believe are not entitled to overtime pay are given the necessary autonomy and tools to make management their primary duty within the workplace.

The trial court dismissed the employees’ claims, but they appealed and the 1st Circuit reversed, holding that the employees were entitled to a trial.

The appellate court considered the relative importance of the workers’ management responsibilities compared to their other duties, the amount of time they spent performing exempt work and the managers’ freedom from direct supervision. It found that they devoted a substantial amount of time to working side by side with their subordinates, serving customers and cleaning up. In addition, they had to seek approval before hiring or firing employees. Therefore, a jury should be allowed to determine whether the managers were subject to the bona fide executive exemption, the court held.

Candace D. Embry is an attorney with Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in Philadelphia.

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