The federal trial court with jurisdiction over Minnesota employers has refused an employer’s request to streamline thecollective-action process.
Essentially, the employer argued that it should be able to discuss the merits of the case before all its past and present employees receive notifications about the lawsuit and have a chance to opt in. The court nixed the idea.
Recent case: Christopher and several other employees sued Minnesota-based national tile retailer The Tile Shop, alleging that sales associates and assistant managers had been misclassified as exempt retail sales employees.
The company wanted the court to decide up front whether the employees were misclassified as part of the collective-action certification and before it had to post notices inviting current and former employees to join the litigation.
The court refused, saying that while some other circuits do so, it wasn’t going to join them. As a result, Minnesota FLSA collective actions will continue to be long, drawn out and expensive. (Chin, et al., v. The Tile Shop, No. 13-CV-2969, DC MN, 2014)
Final note: Employers should try everything possible to avoid misclassifying employees. Making a mistake can be very expensive and take years to resolve.
If in doubt about how your workers should be classified, get expert help. A few thousand dollars spent up front on good legal advice can save you hundreds of thousands later in legal fees, back wages, penalties and lost time.