by Joe Van Acker at Law360
New York ( January 06, 2015, 3:38 PM ET) -- Jimmy John's LLC owes its assistant store managers overtime wages for improperly classifying them as "executives" despite the fact that they primarily make sandwiches, according to a potential class action filed in Florida federal court on Monday.
Three former assistant store managers filed the suit, which claims Jimmy John's willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying them as exempt from the law's overtime pay provisions. The salaried employees said they work an average of at least 50 hours per week and their duties don't differ substantially from those of hourly employees.
"As an experienced and practical employer operating over 2,000 restaurants throughout the country, defendants were aware or recklessly disregarded the fact that plaintiffs and other similarly situated [assistant store managers] were primarily performing nonexempt duties and not performing activities that would suffice to make their actual job duties comply with any FLSA exemption," the complaint said.
The assistant managers said that Jimmy John's failed to perform a person-by-person analysis of their duties before making the decision to classify them as executives, and that the sandwich chain's authorized agents had witnessed firsthand the manual nature of their work.
The complaint said that the assistant managers spend most of their time working the sandwich line, filling orders for customers, operating the cash register, cleaning the restaurant and stocking items, and have no control over hiring, firing, employee discipline or general business operations.
Jimmy John's, rather than its franchisees, controls all aspects of its restaurants, from the layout and design to employee compensation, the complaint said.
The named plaintiffs worked in Jimmy John's restaurants located in Florida, Alabama and Illinois, and seek to create a class comprising all current and former assistant store managers nationwide. They said that Jimmy John's has locations in 44 states and Washington, D.C.
According to the complaint, the company's alleged violations were willful, and therefore the assistant managers' claims are subject to a three-year statute of limitations.
The parties did not immediately respond for requests for comment on Tuesday.
The plaintiffs are represented by Camar R. Jones of Shavitz Law Group PA, Seth Lesser of Klafter Olsen & Lesser LLP, Ossai Miazad and Justin Swartz of Outten & Golden LLP and Gregg Shavitz of Shavitz Law Group PA.
Counsel information for Jimmy John's was not immediately available on Tuesday.
The case is Rodriguez et al. v. Jimmy John's LLC et al., case number 3:15-CV-00002 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
—-Editing by Stephen Berg