Rite Aid settles wage and hour class action

Rite Aid has recently faced wage and hour litigation after classifying more than 6,000 employees as "exempt" workers, meaning that they exempt from overtime pay for any hours they work over 40. 15 lawsuits were filed claiming that these workers should have been classified as "nonexempt" and eligible for overtime pay.

Rite Aid recently agreed to a settlement that resolves 14 of those suits. One will continue moving forward in California, which means it might be left to courts to decide.

This case illustrates the nuance of determining when an employee should be exempt versus nonexempt. Often, companies will automatically classify anyone in a supervisory or managerial position as exempt but it is not always that simple. Many employers struggle with how to classify managers.

The U.S. Department of Labor offers some guidance for employers, which they call the wage and duties test. We'll talk about that next week and provide some basic guidance for how employees should be classified.

In this economy, many people feel grateful to have a job at all. This may leave victims of improper conduct reluctant to report it for fear of losing their jobs. However, there is no excuse for employers who violate wage and hour laws. All employees have basic rights guaranteed by state and federal law and those rights must be respected.

If your employer has violated wage and hour laws or failed to pay you adequately for work performed, consider meeting with an employment law attorney. He or she can help you review your employment situation and pursue any appropriate claims.

Source: Free Enterprise, "Rite Aid Settles Overtime Lawsuit for $20.9M," Andrew Lu, Jan. 10, 2013

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