In December 2016, Malik Payano filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of employees against the iconic fashion company Burberry. The lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Southern District of New York alleged that the Burberry failed to pay its employees for overtime. The class action claimed the failure to pay overtime violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL).
The New York Post reported on July 17, 2017, that Burberry agreed to settle the lawsuit for $2.5 million. That settlement, once the judge approves it, will potentially be shared by hundreds of Burberry employees. The Post said that according to papers filed with the court, the class includes “sales associates, beauty consultants in any Manhattan or Westchester, NY store – as well as sales support and stock associates.”
NYLL and the FLSA require that employers pay employees overtime. Overtime is one and a half times the regular rate of pay. For every hour an employee works in a given workweek over 40, he or she must receive pay at this premium overtime rate. There are some exceptions to this rule which are often the subject of litigation. For example, businesses do not have to pay independent contractors for overtime because they do not have an employer-employee relationship. Many overtime disputes revolve around whether someone is an independent contractor or employee.
Employers go to great lengths to avoid paying overtime to eligible employees because doing so can get expensive. Some companies refuse to pay people who work through breaks, so their hours don’t exceed 40. Others may say that overtime wasn’t “pre-approved” and therefore, they don’t have to pay for it.
Unfortunately, employees in many low-wage, restaurant, and retail jobs are vulnerable to these kinds of abuses.
The complaint Payano filed did not contain allegations of employee misclassification nor did it suggest that Burberry made up an excuse not to pay overtime. Instead, as reported by The Fashion Law, Payano alleged in the complaint that Burberry’s policy was simply that it “does not pay overtime.”
Payano’s class action lawsuit claimed that Burberry systematically forced lower ranking employees including beauty consultants, sales associates, and shipping employees to work for an extra 30-60 minutes at the end of each shift to clean up the store and finish paperwork. The complaint also alleged that during the holiday season that extra work increased to 3-6 hours extra, all of which was “without pay.”
The types of claims in this matter are routinely called “off the clock claims.” When an employee performs job-related work before or after a shift, he or she must get paid for all of the time. If it results in work over 40 hours, those extra hours must be paid at the overtime rate. The employer does not have to give explicit approval or permission to do the job. If the employer knows or should know that the work is being performed, that is enough.
The complaint alleges that Burberry didn’t just know about the extra time and work, but made the extra time and work requirements. Yet, the company still refused to pay a premium for the work performed by the employees.
Although the details of the settlement negotiations are unknown, Burberry’s agreement to pay over $2.5 million to settle claims of over 600 employees, indicates that they are willing to take some responsibility for their failure to abide by overtime laws. According to the terms of the proposed settlement, no employee will get less than $150. The 19 named and opt-in plaintiffs will receive much more.
If you work for a retail company like Burberry or anywhere else in New York, make sure you are getting the pay you deserve. Remember, you should receive overtime pay for every hour you work over 40. IF your employer is not paying you the wages the law requires, there is help for you.
Leeds Brown Law, P.C., employment lawyers representing employees in NYC, have experience with wage theft, tip misappropriation, and unpaid overtime cases. Call our office today at 1-800-585-4658 for a free evaluation of your unpaid wage claim. We may be able to help you and your co-workers recover the money your employer owes. Someone is here to take your call 24/7.