On April 2, 2009, Judge Sarah Vance for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issued an Order and Reasons following a bench trial in favor of two Assistant Managers at Big Lots Stores, Inc. Johnson, et al v. Big Lot Stores, Inc. 2009 wl 886232 (E.D.La. April 2, 2009). They were awarded over $63,000 each, including bad faith liquidated damages. They will also be awarded attorneys fees at a subsequent hearing.
Judge Vance followed the recent 11th Circuit decision of Family Dollar Stores (see my recent post) in issuing this ruling. These cases are important to the hard working retail assistant managers in Connecticut because the FLSA (the law applied in these cases) applies in Connecticut, too.
The take away is that retail assistant managers are frequently misclassified as exempt executives when in fact their primary duty is not management. Employers may not deny overtime pay under the Executive exemption of the FLSA unless the employee’s primary duty is management. More and more, courts are recognizing this important law and awarding employees the compensation they have earned.
There are several cases currently pending in Connecticut, including cases against CVS Caremark and Staples and it will be interesting to see how our District Judges apply this important law. Nice job to Mr. Johnson and Mr. Burden, the plaintiffs, and to their attorneys and to Judge Vance. Lets hope our Connecticut judges rule in a similar fashion!