According to lead plaintiff Joseph Rico, Jack in the Box misclassified himself and other store managers as exempt employees under California labor law, enabling the company to pay them a fixed amount of wages. Rico alleges that he worked at the burger chain between February 2014 and July 2015, during which time he was often asked to fill in for non-exempt hourly employees who had worked 40 hours in a given week, allowing JB to minimize overtime pay.
"Jack In The Box has a policy and practice of misclassifying store managers as salaried exempt employees,"Rico states in his complaint. "... Jack In The Box had and continues to have a corporate aversion to paying its employees overtime wages."
The complaint asserts that Rico was told by that he would be earning $45,000 a year and working about 47.5 hours per week on average. However, Rico claims he regularly worked over 72 hours, and occasionally as much as 80 hours per week, rarely had time to take breaks and was not compensated for breaks that were missed or interrupted.
The lawsuit cites the example that on Mondays Rico started work at 4 a.m., spending the early hours doing inventory, and then performing non-exempt tasks like filling orders, working the grill, deep fryer and drive through, stocking the restaurant and providing janitorial, custodial, security and repair services.
Rico states he did not receive a break from work until at least 2 p.m., and even then the break would only be a few minutes long, if customer flow allowed for it. On most days, Rico claims he worked until 7 p.m. or later, according to the lawsuit. He cites additional examples of excessive hours worked, throughout a work week, without breaks, performing non-exempt tasks.
Further, the lawsuit claims that Rico and other store managers did not receive wage statements, as required by California Labor Code, that they were not paid the wages they were due if they were terminated or resigned, and that they had to pay out of pocket for any restaurant repairs, but were not reimbursed.
In the complaint, Rico seeks compensation, damages, penalties and interest under the California Labor Code, as well as penalties for violation of the Unfair Business Act, California Business and Professions Code, and compensation and penalties under the California Private Attorneys General Act. He also seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorneys' fees and costs under the Labor Code and California Code of Civil Procedure.
Rico is represented by Carolyn Hunt Cottrell and Keenan L. Klein of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky Wotkyns LLP and John F. Edgar and Alexander T. Ricke of Edgar Law Firm LLC.
The case is Joseph Rico, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, v. Jack in the Box Inc. and DOES 1-50, inclusive, case number BC599920, in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles.