A federal judge ruled recently that a class action against Family Dollar Stores by its Massachusetts Store Managers can return to the Massachusetts state court system where it started. Family Dollar had removed the case to federal court. Lawyers for the Store Managers opposed that removal, and asked the judge to send the case back to the state court system. The judge agreed.
What is the case about?
Store Managers at Family Dollar Stores spend lots of time unloading trucks, stocking shelves and working the cash register. They spend very little time actually managing the store. For these reasons, they’ve sued claiming that their classification as “executives” by Family Dollar is wrong. They disagree that their primary duty is management. Instead, they believe their primary duty is to perform the same hourly work as their stock clerks and sales associates. They work long hours, sometimes 50, 60 or 70 hours per week, with no overtime pay.
Is there precedent?
In 2006, a jury in Alabama awarded a class of over 1,400 store managers back pay. The total award was over $54,000,000. Since then, Family Dollar claims to have “retooled” the position, but store managers around the country disagree. Lawsuits have been brought in many states including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Colorado. In Connecticut, the company’s motion to dismiss the case was denied by the court, leaving it for a jury to decide if the position is mostly hourly or mostly managerial.
What happens next?
Lawyers for the Store Managers first have to defend a recent motion designed at moving the case back to the federal courts. Then, the litigation will proceed. The lawyers will exchange documents and witness’ testimony will be taken. If the case isn’t settled, then a trial will occur.
Can other Store Managers join?
Yes. Class actions are designed to represent the interests of the entire class of store managers in Massachusetts. The plaintiff and his lawyers believe that the decision of whether the store managers are mostly managers or mostly stock clerks/cashiers is a decision that is common to the entire class.