What do retailers Burberry, Lowe’s, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom’s Trunk Club have in common? All of them have recently faced class action lawsuits from workers alleging they were cheated out of wages and overtime.
In some cases, the retailers paid out significant sums to workers – in the millions – to settle these cases.
- Burberry agreed to pay $2.54 million in July to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it didn’t pay workers for overtime. The employees claimed they were not paid for work done before and after their shift – which added up to as much as 30 minutes a day. In addition to the off-the-clock work, workers said they were regularly made to work through lunch breaks.
- In February, T.J. Maxx said it would pay $8.5 million to workers who alleged in a class action lawsuit that the retail giant did not pay them for time spent waiting on managers to close up stores after hours or for meal breaks.
- Lowe’s also settled a class action lawsuit earlier this year for $2.85 million. Workers alleged the retailer misclassified them as managers to avoid paying them overtime.
Other lawsuits currently pending, include:
- An unpaid overtime suit against Bed, Bath & Beyond.
- A former employee of Trunk Club, which is owned by Nordstrom’s, that alleges he and others were forced to work off-the-clock.
- Last December, an employee filed a class action against Kmart alleging it was not paying overtime to assistant managers. This came after the retailer had already settled a separate overtime lawsuit.
Retail Workers at Risk for Wage Theft
The above lawsuits and settlements stem from retailers failing to abide by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as state and local employment statutes. Retail workers are particularly at risk for wage theft, which can take several forms, including:
- Off-the-clock work: Retail workers are often asked to complete job-related tasks before and after their shifts for which they are not compensated.
- Misclassification. Retailers often give employees who should be receiving time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours a week job titles that sound like management positions so they can be classified as exempt from overtime.
- Unpaid Meal Breaks. Retailers often force employees to perform work during unpaid meal breaks – but do not compensate them for that time.
If you are a retail worker and feel your employer is violating the FLSA or committing other wage and hour abuses, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer about your situation. You may have a case.