Lowe’s Territory Managers Claim They Should Have Been Paid Overtime in Suit

Last week, three employees of PPG Industries, the owner of the paints and stains in Lowe’s home improvement stores, sued the company for denying them overtime compensation.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, December 30, 2009, in federal court in Pittsburgh. According to The Washington Post, all three plaintiffs allege that PPG owes them an unspecified amount of money in overtime pay and damages for violations of The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA mandates that covered nonexempt workers are entitled to overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay after 40 hours of work per week.

The three employees claim that PPG misclassified them as exempt employees, so as not to be enititled to overtime pay, calling the plaintiffs “territorial managers” even though they have no authority over other employees, and their responsibilities are non-managerial.

According to the Complaint, PPG requires its “territory managers” to work at least eight hours each day in the Lowe’s store, stocking and servicing the store, but they also move from store to store throughout their territory to perform these functions. They are not paid for travel time, which can take up a great deal of their day. The allegations state that these “territory managers” typically work 60-70 hours a week, on an annual salary of less than $30,000 a year.

ABC News and The Washington Post also report that additionally, two of the three plaintiffs claim that they were disciplined unfairly when they complained about the overtime issue to management in October. They were placed in a performance improvement plan and could be fired under PPG’s disciplinary system in retaliation for their complaints. They say that other workers have received similar punishment after voicing complaints, as well.

Unfortunately, misclassification of employees to avoid paying overtime is becoming more and more typical in today’s economic climate with employers seeking ways to cut costs and expenses.