PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) - A former assistant manager is suing Dunkin' Donuts for allegedly failing to pay overtime pay and wrongfully classifying her as exempt from overtime pay.
Helen Rambo was employed by Heartland Restaurant Group, which is doing business as Dunkin' Donuts, from Jan. 15, 2012, until April 19, first as a shift leader and then as an assistant manager, according to a complaint filed Sept. 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
As a shift leader, Rambo was paid an hourly rate, plus overtime. However, as an assistant manager, she says she was paid only a salary of $462.50 per week, with no overtime pay, according to the suit.
Rambo claims she was scheduled by the defendant to work 50 hours per week and normally worked five days per week. She also said sometimes she worked six days per week, for 55 to 65 hours each workweek, and sometimes more than that.
"The time records maintained by defendant would normally show 50 hours per week, but these records were knowingly false," the complaint states. "Defendant would alter the time records to reflect only 50 hours per week even when plaintiff would work in excess of 50 hours."
The defendant told Rambo she was exempt from overtime because she was an assistant manager and was salaried, according to the suit.
Rambo claims the defendant classified her as an exempt executive employee within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act.
The classification was improper and Rambo did not manage the requisite number of employees to be exempt under the FLSA and the PMWA, according to the suit.
"Plaintiff’s primary duties were to perform various functions such as baking, working the cash register, preparing food and serving food, the same duties normally performed by the hourly (non-exempt) employees," the complaint states. "Even if defendant were to assert the administrative exemption to the FLSA and the PMWA, plaintiff did not meet the requirements for the administrative exemption."
Rambo claims she did not make decisions relative to management policy or general business operations of the defendant and also did not regularly exercise independent judgment and/or discretion in the performance of her duties, as the performance of the duties she was assigned was strictly controlled and dictated by the defendant’s policies and practices, automated management systems and procedures and daily instructions.
Considering the hours she worked, Rambo made the same or even less per hour than the hourly employees, particularly when the hourly employees also earned overtime pay, according to the suit.
Rambo claims she did not meet the requirements for any of the exemptions within the FLSA or PMWA and the defendant has known since before she became an assistant manager that she was non-exempt.
"Improperly claiming plaintiff was exempt was a deliberate act by defendant to avoid the payment of overtime hours to plaintiff," the complaint states. "Defendant has known since at least September 2011 that it has been in violation of the FLSA and PMWA and has acted in reckless disregard of the FLSA and the PMWA with respect to the classification and payment of plaintiff."
With respect to the other assistant managers, the plaintiff worked directly with several of them at other stores and observed their duties, according to the suit.
Rambo claims based on these observations, the primary duties of the other assistant managers at the other stores were the same as hers, which was production.
"Plaintiff was also told by management that the other assistant managers were assigned to do the same basic tasks plaintiff performed," the complaint states. "Like plaintiff, the other assistant managers did not regularly supervise two or more full-time workers."
Rambo claims that improperly claiming she and other assistant managers in the Pittsburgh area to be exempt is a deliberate act by the defendant to avoid the payment of overtime hours to the assistant managers and to avoid having to pay additional overtime to hourly employees.
"By requiring plaintiff and other assistant managers in the Pittsburgh area to perform the same primary duties as hourly employees yet work well in excess of 40 hours each week(scheduled for 50 hours) without overtime pay, defendant can and does reduce the amount of overtime pay paid to its non-exempt hourly employees and, overall, reduces overhead," the complaint states.
Rambo is seeking class certification and compensatory damages. She is represented by Joseph H. Chivers and John R. Linkosky of Employment Rights Group.
The case is assigned to District Judge Mark R. Hornak.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:14-cv-01257
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.