News: In the News
Kohl's accused of shorting assistant store managers on pay; company denies allegations
Russell Berger Quoted in the Journal Sentinel
Kohl's Corp. holds down costs by improperly barring assistant store managers from getting overtime pay even though most of their work involves non-supervisory tasks such as unloading freight and stocking shelves, a lawsuit alleges.
The case is one of the latest in a series of legal actions filed against retailers, restaurant chains and other businesses over how they pay employees who carry manager titles but function in part as rank-and-file workers.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of litigation, and it’s growing,” said Nicholas Fortuna, a New York-based attorney who practices employment law.
Since April 2013, at least 26 settlements totaling nearly $150 million have been reached in cases where companies classified lower-rung managers as exempt from overtime pay, according to federal court records and a report by New York law firm Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan.
Companies have to wrestle with the decision of whether to exempt assistant managers from overtime pay, said Russell Berger, an attorney in Baltimore who represents employers. He said that while cashiers clearly are eligible and the overall store manager clearly is not, assistant managers represent “that in-between where there are some managerial duties but they’re not the person in charge.”
An employee who is exempt from overtime can still stock shelves or ring up customers, but the most important thing they do must be directing other workers, Berger said.
“The law isn’t what the job description says,” he said. “It’s what the employee actually does.”
Typically, assistant managers don’t meet the standards for exemption, said Fortuna, who, like Berger, represents employers in employment-law disputes.
ABOUT RUSSELL BERGER
Russell Berger is the trusted legal counsel every business owner needs to feel confident in their decision-making and secure with their assets. He is a pragmatic problem-solver that works efficiently and tirelessly to present his clients the best possible solutions to their most complicated issues. As an accomplished, Principal attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice, Mr. Berger provides business counsel to employers on employee matters and is well-versed in litigating in both state and federal courts. He represents employers, businesses, and professionals in employment disputes across the nation.
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