Kohl’s Could Face Collective Action Lawsuit Over Lack Of Overtime

Former Assistant Managers Say They Should Have Been Paid Overtime

Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo

A Wisconsin-based retailer is facing a federal lawsuit for not paying assistant managers overtime.

Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. is being sued by Stacy Collins, a former employee in Connecticut who says she should have been eligible for overtime.

Federal law requires employees must have management as their primary duty for a company to make them ineligible for overtime pay.

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Collins claims that her work mainly included “unloading freight, stocking shelves, filling on-line orders, ensuring that the merchandise was arranged according to company standards, counting inventory, and organizing the store,” according to the lawsuit.

“We don’t challenge that (assistant managers) perform some management functions, but we challenge Kohl’s belief that their primary duty is management. We believe that their primary duty is to perform hourly non-management functions,” said Richard Hayber, an attorney representing Collins.

The lawsuit was first filed in federal court in Connecticut in January, but was recently moved to Wisconsin. The lawsuit said Collins is seeking unpaid overtime wages, damages and attorneys’ fees, as well as a court order directing Kohl’s to comply with labor laws.

This isn’t the first time Kohl’s has faced challenges to its overtime policies. The company settled a similar lawsuit brought by several former assistant managers from New York in 2016.

“If a case like this has merit, usually you can tell pretty early on and those are more likely to settle,” said Jim Walcheske, an employment attorney from Brookfield who is not involved in the Kohl’s lawsuit. “When you’re talking about a classification or misclassification case, those are a lot more fact-intensive than say someone just wasn’t properly paid overtime.”

Walcheske said these cases usually come down to the actual duties an employee is performing on the job.

“If you’re finding yourself in trouble frequently, it’s probably a good time to take a look at your policies too,” Walcheske said.

Hayber said his client has asked the judge to allow the case to be a collective action, which would mean current and former assistant managers at Kohl’s stores would be eligible to join the lawsuit. Hayber estimates that could include up to 5,000 people and he said some have already expressed interest.

“I’m going to estimate between 30 and 50 people who have sent in forms attempting to join the case. There’s been widespread interest in the case from all over the country,” Hayber said.

Kohl’s did not return requests for comment by deadline.