The Chinese fast-food chain Panda Express faces a national overtime lawsuit after a federal district court judge in New York ruled the case could move forward as a class action.
General managers at several of the company’s restaurants complained they were wrongly classified as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act ( ). Panda Express had classified them as executive employees, but they maintain they largely perform the same tasks as those they supervise—taking orders, serving customers, counting inventory and cleaning the restaurants.
Panda Express general managers typically work 50 or more hours per week, but do not receive overtime pay.
The class is potentially huge. The chain operates more than 1,200 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
Note: Two trends make it more important than ever to properly classify employees. First, the U.S. Department of Labor has stepped up FLSA enforcement. Second, employees and their attorneys are savvier than ever when it comes to overtime issues.
Advice: Now is a good time to review all classification decisions to ensure they comply with the law.