Two weeks ago I discussed how banks routinely targeted the most financially vulnerable members of society for fraudulent overdraft and debt collection procedures. If there are three words to sum up the American economy for the lower half of earners, it’s “nickel and dimed.” When Barbara Ehrenreich was researching her book Nickel and Dimed, she was shocked by “the totalitarian nature of so many low-wage workplaces. On two jobs, for example, there was a rule against talking with your fellow employees.”

It’s hard not to use the phrase “nickel and dimed” every time I read about a Fair Labor Standards Act case, and yesterday The Legal Intelligencer reported on the $20.9 million settlement of a wage-and-hour class action against Rite Aid. If anyone’s interested, the Order approving the settlement is here. While it was being litigated, the case also produced a good opinion in the Third Circuit, reported at 675 F.3d 249, which allowed state and federal wage-and-hour claims to be brought together in hybrid class/collective actions, bringing claims for the same actions under state and federal statutes.

The class action was brought on behalf of Rite Aid’s assistant store managers and co-managers, whom the company had claimed were part of management, and thus, they claimed, exempt from overtime pay requirements under the FLSA and its analogous state wage-and-hour laws. The lawsuit sought a change in the employees’ designation as well as reimbursement for unpaid overtime wages — and it won on both fronts, forcing a change in the company’s policies two years into the lawsuit and recovering an average of $1,800 to each of the class plaintiffs. (If you’re interested in exemptions law, back in October, Andrew Frisch of Morgan & Morgan at the Overtime Law Blog summarized some recent exemption court opinions.)

There’s a lot of doom-and-gloom in the plaintiff’s bar these days. Over the past decade, the Supreme Court has amended by fiat the Rules of Civil Procedure relating to pleading, has been on the warpath against class actions, has granted the word “arbitration” magical powers even greater than “abracadabra,” and has blown up virtually all lawsuits against generic drug manufacturers — all regardless of the laws Congress actually wrote.

But one area in which plaintiffs have done well recently has been the Fair Labor Standards Act. 
Continue Reading Using The Fair Labor Standards Act For Nickel And Dimed Employees