Boston Market To Pay $3 Million To Settle Workers' Overtime Pay Suit

Restaurant managers don't usually clean ovens, mop floors or serve food. But it was having to perform such mundane tasks and not getting properly paid to do them that led several Boston Market Corp. employees to sue the chain for overtime pay.

The employees alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that the Golden, Colo.-based company failed to pay them overtime for working more than 40 hours a week by misclassifying them as "assistant managers" or other, similar titles that made them ineligible for overtime pay -- even though they spent the bulk of their time engaged in non-managerial duties.

A federal court this week agreed with the plaintiffs, who worked at stores in New York state and Connecticut, and granted them back pay in a class-action settlement, reports (subscription required).

In all, Boston Market agreed to pay $3 million to settle the claims, though the most any worker received was $12,000, while attorneys representing them were granted $1 million.

Disputes involving overtime and who is entitled to it have increased in recent years, as workers have tired of working extra hours for little or no extra pay.

The caseload of overtime cases brought by the U.S. Department of Labor jumped 36 percent to nearly 12,000 cases last year, compared to about 8,800 claims in 2010. Meanwhile, lawsuits brought in federal courts have climbed 15 percent.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week is hearing a case involving whether pharmaceutical companies must pay overtime wages to as many as 90,000 sales representatives. If it rules in favor of the employees, that would reverse 70 years of pay practices within the industry.

Earlier this year, Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG settled a similar, class-action lawsuit brought by its sales reps for $99 million. And last month, celebrity chef Mario Batali's restaurant enterprise paid $5.2 million to settle claims involving overtime pay and tips brought by employees.

According to MSNBC, it's unclear how many U.S. workers today are eligible for overtime pay, though an estimated 105 million were eligible in 2004, based on Labor Department estimates at the time.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, so-called non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 each week.

Generally, employees who are paid a salary, rather than an hourly wage, are exempt from overtime rules, as are those who perform executive or professional duties.

Other factors that determine whether employees are eligible for overtime pay include whether the job performed involves supervising other employees and their duties, as well as a host of other management-type duties, including interviewing applicants, training employees, setting wages and workhours, planning and apportioning work and providing a safe workplace, among others.

How Overtime Pay Works

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Mr. Rockafeller

nothing bad about moping floors....picking up trash biggie.....But cleaning ovens and specially if you have to spray strong de- greasing agents in the stove to dissolve old baked on fat / oil ...... then we got a problem....I dont wanna do that even IF they pay me for O.T.

April 23 2012 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John N.

The courts and Department of Labor need to investigate Macys as well. I have a good friend who works there. What unbelievably poor workplace practices and conditions are evident there. Macy's is now requiring sales associates nd dept. managers to pick up trash in lieu of custodial staff. This is a terrible practice. Not only are the associates required to deal with multiple customers at once, they have to make their workplace cleaner by acting as custodial staff. The maintanence crews have been reduced significantly as a result. This will save Macys (Federated) millions of dollars a year. Not to mention many associates have not received pay raises in several years, they are reduced to sanitation crew to pick up after filthy customers and their messy children. Outrageous. These associates definitely need a union to represent them. Federated which is the umbrella corporation controlling Macys, has barred unions from their "open door" policy workplace. What a devious and underhanded plot to control staff from issuing legitimate complaints and paying employees their fair value. There is extremely poor employee relations and sketchy workplace conditions going on there. This issue should be thoroughly investigated by the state oversight board and the courts.

April 23 2012 at 2:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
In My Opinion Only

Screw the lawyers too, there's no place in Heaven for Lawyers or CEOs. They all go straight to HELL!

April 23 2012 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
In My Opinion Only

Screw the management for being creepy cheap when it comes to overtime. punish 'em big time.

April 23 2012 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the type of corporate abuse of it's employees that leads to union labor. People need someone to stick up for them and its certainly not lawyers who get 1 million dollars vs. an award of $12,000

April 23 2012 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to itsmegp46's comment

you obviously don't realize how much money union leaders & reps make do you? check it out, it would surprise you.

April 23 2012 at 1:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Haha! I just love when these corporate abusers get theirs!

April 23 2012 at 12:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Are they still in business? I thought they went out years ago!

April 23 2012 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These corp giants are making out like fat cats, they would have had to pay these employees $15 mil if they were made to pay the overtime rate for all hours worked. So they end up paying 2 mil to the employees and 1 mil to the lawyers and the govt got screwed out of all of those taxes and ss payments etc. No wonder that more and more of them are getting away with this. These guys are laughing to the bank. Where is the Dept of labor and IRS on this?

April 22 2012 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Typical corporate behavior - screwing the peons out of the cash they deserve. This is an old practice that hasn't gone out of style yet. When I was in high school ( a very long time ago and working, we had to clean up the place after "working" and were never paid for it - when I brought it up - I no longer had a job. My employer thought I should be grateful for having a job and that cleaning his business for free was just a part of the job.....the part he didn't want to pay for!

April 22 2012 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great, the attorneys get a million....

April 22 2012 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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