By Linda H. Evans,
A federal judge in Florida certified a nationwide collective action against Lowe’s Home Centers on January 10, 2014. The odd thing about this case is that it was brought by HR Managers who claimed they were misclassified as exempt from overtime. The plaintiff was an HR Manager at a store where she claimed she did not perform any of the duties required to meet the exempt status, such as hiring, firing or other important employment decisions requiring her to use her own discretion. In fact, the HR Manager claimed, she was really doing clerical work. The suit asked for conditional certification of the case as a collective action nationwide for all HR Managers or other HR store employees with other titles who worked for the company within the past three years, and who worked overtime, but were not paid for it.
The lesson here is: typically the administrative exemption is used for HR staff, but it does require those employees have the right to act with a certain level of discretion. Employers should keep good records, showing exempt HR staff being involved in hiring, firing and disciplining of employees. Good record keeping can go a long way in stopping these lawsuits!
(Lytle v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc., Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, Case No. 8:12-cv-1848-T-33TBM, January 10, 2014)