Washington DC Dec 6 2017 Former Panera employees from D.C. and Alabama have filed a class-action lawsuit against the fast-casual deli and bakery chain, claiming they were not paid overtime wages they say they were owed when they worked as assistant managers.
The D.C. employee, Alan Meyer, worked for Panera (NASDAQ: PNRA) in Tenleyown from April to October 2015. He and Alabama Panera employee David Cornelius filed their suit Nov. 29 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Meyer and Cornelius say they were “unlawfully classified as exempt from overtime protections,” and that they worked more than 40 hours per week without being paid a higher overtime wage for extra time at the St. Louis-based chain.
“Meyer regularly worked more than 40 hours per week, and frequently worked approximately 60 hours per week, without being paid overtime,” the suit states.
We have reached out to Panera and will update this story if we get a response.
While federal employment law does exempt some managers from overtime regulations, Meyer and Cornelius argue that assistant managers at Panera “predominantly perform non-managerial work related to customer service, cashiering, food preparation and cleaning.”
The suit alleges that Panera has an intentional pattern of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and D.C. wage laws, including by “willfully failing to record all of the time that its employees … have worked,” and “willfully misclassifying plaintiffs and the collective members as exempt from the requirements of FLSA” and others. That means, according to the suit, that Panera is “willfully failing to timely pay its employees … overtime wages and all wages earned for hours that they worked in excess of forty per week.”
The two ex-employees are bringing the suit on behalf of any current and former similarly situated assistant managers at Panera, the suit states. They believe there are more than 100 employees who would be eligible to join the suit.
They are seeking back wages, interest, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees and any other compensation to be determined by the court. The plaintiffs are asking for a trial by jury.
This is not Panera’s first rodeo in court over overtime pay; the company paid $5 million to settle two class-action lawsuits focused on overtime and breaks in 2011, according to sister publication the St. Louis Business Journal. It is also facing a similar suit in Georgia, filed in 2016, and another in Florida, filed in 2017, focused on overtime wages.