Ollie’s hit with overtime lawsuits

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet has joined a string of retailers accused of improperly denying overtime pay to people who hold management jobs in their stores.

  • Two salaried employees in New York have filed lawsuits claiming Ollie’s should have paid them overtime since their duties were “virtually indistinguishable” from those of hourly workers.
  • The suits, filed in a federal court in upstate New York, are seeking certification as class actions covering store managers and so-called co-team leaders at Ollie’s, which has 450 stores nationwide.
  • The co-team leader filed a complaint in March. The manager’s case was filed last week.
  • In a court filing in response to the co-team leader’s complaint, the Harrisburg-based discount retailer has denied the charges and argues that the plaintiff is not entitled to class-action status. A company spokesperson declined to comment.

What are the details: The plaintiffs — manager Mark Spoto and co-team leader James Pauli — claim they spend 90% of their time on non-managerial duties like stocking shelves, shoveling snow, cleaning bathrooms and operating cash registers.

  • Both also claim they often work more than 40 hours a week and sometimes more than 60. But because they are salaried, they are classified as exempt, meaning they do not draw overtime pay.
  • The lawsuits claim the plaintiffs are misclassified in violation of both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York state laws on overtime. The plaintiffs also claim they should be paid an hourly rate.
  • Spoto, who has worked in a Cicero, New York, Ollie’s since 2016, earns an annual salary between $67,000 and $71,700, according to his lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New Jersey.
  • Pauli, a co-team leader in Cicero since 2013, earns $940 per week, according to his lawsuit, filed in the same court.

What are they seeking: Unpaid overtime plus damages, as well as other fees related to alleged violations of New York law, such as provisions related to wage notifications.

  • The federal counts would apply to Ollie’s workers nationwide while the New York counts apply only to workers in that state.
  • The federal law looks back three years, while the state law goes back six years, according to Frank Gattuso, an attorney in Fayetteville, New York, who represents both plaintiffs.

What’s the history: Similar lawsuits have unfolded against retailers ranging from AutoZone to Walmart.

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