By Heidi Turner
Alameda County, CA: Walmart faces a California overtime lawsuit alleging the company purposely gave assistant store managers the duties of lower-level employees to get around overtime pay laws. The lawsuit alleges the workers were classified as managers to avoid paying overtime, but they did not have any managerial duties or authority.
According to East Bay Express (4/9/15), the lawsuit was filed by Bonnie Cardoza, who alleges she worked as an assistant manager at Walmart for five years. Instead of having managerial tasks, however, she spent much of her time performing duties such as taking inventory, watching the self-checkout area and greeting customers. And although she was performing lower-level duties, because she was classified as managerial, she was not given overtime pay.
The lawsuit alleges Walmart willingly and deceptively misclassified its employees as assistant managers to save money. Cardoza further alleges she and other assistant managers were denied rest and meal breaks.
Although there are managerial exemptions from overtime pay, those exemptions are based on the person’s job duties and not on their job title. If a person has a managerial title but exercises no authority or discretion on the job and regularly performs the duties of an hourly employee, that worker is eligible for overtime pay. To qualify for the administrative exemption, the employee’s regular duties must pass tests that include having discretion or authority over their job.
Walmart has been accused of wage violations before. In 2014, the company was ordered to pay more than $150 million to settle a lawsuit by current and former workers who accused the company of forcing them to work off-the-clock during their breaks. According to Inquirer (12/17/14), in December 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings finding Walmart owed its workers money for being forced to skip breaks.
Approximately 187,000 employees were affected by the settlement. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2002 and alleged employees were forced to work through meal and rest breaks. A lower court found Walmart did not violate meal break laws, but did improperly deny employees pay when they worked during their breaks. In addition to the $151 million in wages and damages, Walmart was ordered to pay $33.8 million in attorney’s fees.
Walmart has said it stands by its timekeeping systems.
The Cardoza lawsuit is case number 4:15-cv-01634.