The home furnishing chain, Bed, Bath & Beyond has yet another wage and hour lawsuit filed against them, alleging misclassification, failure to pay overtime, and failure to pay to double-time wages. Joshua, a department manager at the company’s Houston store, became the lead plaintiff in this new lawsuit.
He was classified as a salaried, exempt employee, earning $1,038.46 per week, no matter how many hours he worked in actuality. Through a reconstruction of his hours worked, the plaintiff’s counsel alleges that Joshua worked beyond 40 hours a week and even up to 60 hours a week. Joshua’s supervisors were aware of the number of hours that he was working per week but still made no attempt to get him his correct rate of pay.
In a similar suit in California, Bed, Bath & Beyond was found liable for willful misclassification of assistant managers in order to avoid paying overtime. The suit also alleged failure to reimburse business expenses and costs and failure to provide seating.
So what makes a person exempt or non-exempt? Though there are many qualifications for an exempt classification, the best explanation is a measure of independent discretion exercised at the job. If you exercise independent discretion at least half the time (ability to make decisions on behalf of the company, are in specialized professionals, or can negotiate on behalf of the company) then you may be exempt and can earn a salary no matter how many hours you work. Some examples would be company executives, doctors, and engineers.
Non-exempt employees are those who have a routinized, non-authoritative position that does not allow for major decisions or work to go through without approval. Examples would include retailer service workers, clerical workers, and food servers.