Alaska Communications Sued for Overtime and Wage Violations
A class and collective action suit was filed recently against one of Alaska’s largest communications companies. The suit alleges that Alaska Communications Systems Group failed to pay its sales and marketing employees overtime pay as required under federal and state law. It also alleges that the company forced its sales and marketing employees to falsify their time sheets by not allowing them to record their overtime hours. The lead plaintiff started as a market analyst and then moved to a sales position during her 8 years of employment. The company classified her as an exempt employee and therefore not entitled to overtime. She averaged more than 60 hours per week.
In November 2011, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development made a determination that the plaintiff was not an exempt employee and was entitled to overtime pay but the company refused to follow the department’s determination. The suit seeks to recover overtime pay for all employees who worked in a sales or marketing position for Alaska Communications.
As the plaintiff’s attorneys commented, the overtime laws were designed to reduce unemployment by discouraging employers from having a few employees work long hours instead of hiring additional workers. If employers can classify more employees as exempt, they can work these employees long hours without paying them overtime pay and, therefore, have no incentive to hire additional workers.
Most commonly, an employer will label an employee as a “manager” or “supervisor”, pay them a salary, and claim they are exempt under the Executive Exemption. In rare instances, the employee’s salary may not meet the minimum required which is $455* per week (even though it is relatively low). More often, however, the employee’s duties do not meet the exemption requirements. Usually they lack the necessary managerial/supervisory authority required by the exemption. It is important to remember that merely being paid a salary or being labeled a manager does not determine your exempt status – only your job duties do.
* The Department of Labor under the Obama Administration increased this salary amount to $913 per week effective 12/1/2016; however, this increase was blocked by a court ruling. The Trump Administration is now reconsidering these changes and appears to favor a lower minimum salary amount. Please see this page for the latest updates.
If you feel you are misclassified as an exempt employee and should be receiving overtime pay and would like us to evaluate your situation, please call us at 713-782-LAW1 (5291) or 1-866-559-0400 or submit your information using our convenient Case Evaluation form.