Seattle, WA: An unpaid overtime class action lawsuit has been filed against tire retail chain Les Schwab Tire Centers ("Les Schwab") alleging the company intentionally misclassified a large segment of its workforce in an attempt to avoid paying hundreds of employees overtime pay in violation of Washington State wage and hour laws.
The proposed class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington alleges that Les Schwab compelled workers titled as assistant managers to work extra hours without overtime pay, including twelve-hour workdays and six-day workweeks.
According to published reports, workers classified as assistant managers compete against one another for the opportunity to become store managers, an extraordinarily lucrative position often paying in six figures. The company amended its policy and now treats assistant mangers as hourly employees, the complaint notes.
The suit was filed on behalf of all individuals who were employed by Les Schwab in Washington as assistant managers from November 6, 2010 to the present, were misclassified as exempt employees, and were not paid appropriate overtime wages as required by law.
Washington State's wage and hour laws enforce fair compensation for work performed, including overtime at the statutory rate for employees who work more than 40 hours a week.
The state has created limited exceptions to this rule for "any individual employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity," but the case alleges that Les Schwab's "assistant manager" title is a "misnomer," keeping employees from making wages they deserve for the work they perform.
The complaint plaintiff, Richard O'Hearn, alleges that Les Schwab has misclassified assistant managers systematically, and that based on the work performed and time devoted in this position, Les Schwab knowingly let this practice continue.
Les Schwab owns and operates more than 600 retail tire stores across the western United States, and according to the complaint, all locations follow a similar employment and position hierarchy.
The complaint alleges that in each of its Washington stores, Les Schwab employed at least one person who is designated an assistant manager, which were required to conform to Les Schwab's company-wide standards, including hours worked and the tasks performed.
"The assistant managers' primary duties did not constitute the management of the Les Schwab business or require the exercise of discretionary powers," according to the lawsuit. The case alleges that Assistant Managers were tasked with routine maintenance work such as "cleaning up the backroom or stockroom, changing light bulbs, sweeping the parking lot, dumping scrap heaps of metal, garbage, or cardboard." The case alleges that actual managerial work performed by Assistant Managers was "minimal."
According to the case, O'Hearn, assistant manager at the Bothell Les Schwab Tire Center, describes his responsibilities in similar terms, working more than 40 hours a week, arriving at the location before store hours, and performing non-managerial duties alongside hourly employees.
On January 1, 2013, Les Schwab suspended its policy of classifying its Assistant Managers as exempt, but did not pay Plaintiff O'Hearn, or any of its Washington assistant managers, the earned overtime they had allegedly accrued prior to the suspension of the policy.
Plaintiffs are represented by The national lawfirm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.