Articles Posted in Class Action

In many instances where an employer fails to pay an employee proper wages for hours worked, the underpaid employee’s situation is not unique, and the employer is, in fact, failing to pay many individuals adequate wages. In such cases, it may be beneficial to file a collective action that allows the employee to seek wages on behalf of his or herself and all employees similarly situated. Pursuing a collective action can be complicated, however, and requires the plaintiff to prove certain factors are met.

In a case recently heard by the District Court for the District of New Jersey, the court explained the requirements a plaintiff must meet to show both a class exists and who should be included in that class. If you believe your employer improperly denied you wages for hours worked, it is in your best interest to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey overtime rights attorney to discuss the facts of your case and which option for seeking wages is most beneficial under your circumstances.

Facts Regarding Plaintiff Employment

Reportedly, the plaintiff was employed as a cook at one of the defendant’s corporate cost centers. The defendant employer provides food and hospitality services to businesses nationally in onsite cost centers, which were essentially cafes. The cafes varied in size and employed anywhere from a handful to 70 non-exempt employees. Scheduling was handled locally. The plaintiff alleged that he was forced to keep track of his own hours, request permission to work overtime, and work unrecorded hours for which he was not paid, and that the defendant failed to compensate employees for time and travel expenses. As to other workers, the plaintiff alleged that he observed other employees working hours for which they were not compensated as well. As such, he filed an action seeking wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law. The plaintiff then filed a motion for a conditional certification of the case, which the defendant opposed.

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To pursue a collective action lawsuit alleging violations of state or federal overtime laws, you must provide sufficient evidence of other similarly situated workers who suffered due to your employer’s alleged violations. Failure to provide enough evidence to show that your case should be permitted to proceed as a collective action can result in the court’s refusal to grant a certification of a collective action.

In Freeman v. Sam’s East, the United States District Court of the District of New Jersey, the Honorable William Martini, held that a uniform job description alone is generally insufficient evidence to grant a conditional certification of a nationwide class of Sam’s Club employees. If you believe your employer owes you and your coworkers unpaid overtime wages, you should speak with a knowledgeable  New Jersey overtime rights attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue a collective action claim.

Employment and Procedural History

The plaintiff alleged working at Sam’s Club as a Fresh Assistant Managers (FAMs). He claimed that his employer incorrectly classified him as an exempt employee to avoid paying him overtime wages, and that he and other FAMs were entitled to overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for working more than forty hours per week. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the employer on behalf of himself and all FAMs who worked for the employer from 2014 on and were similarly situated.

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