Class action: Dick's Sporting Goods misclassified employees as assistant managers to avoid paying OT

Dana Herra Jun. 2, 2015, 10:43am

A former assistant store manager has filed a class action lawsuit against Dick’s Sporting Goods, claiming the retailer cheated employees out of overtime pay by labeling them assistant managers.

Attorneys Edward A. Wallace and Amy E. Keller of Wexler Wallace LLP in Chicago filed the case in Cook County Circuit Court May 29 on behalf of John Bouchard. The complaint seeks to broaden the action to cover a class which would include anyone who worked as an assistant manager at any of Dick’s 23 Illinois stores at any point in the last three years.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, which began in 1948 in Binghamton, New York, has more than 500 stores nationwide selling sports equipment, apparel and footwear. It also owns specialty retailer Golf Galaxy. Net income for the company in the first quarter of this year was more than $63 million, according to financial statements on Dick’s website.

Bouchard, of Pinckneyville, worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods’ store at 1250 E. Main St. in Carbondale from August 2009 until October 2014. According to the suit, he was hired as an hourly sales associate and was promoted in November 2011 to hardlines manager, one of several assistant manager classifications in the business.

Court documents state that as a hardlines manager, Bouchard’s job duties included unloading and stocking merchandise, keeping the store and displays neat, running cash registers, putting up signs and displays, and providing customer service.

The responsibilities of the job – and of other assistant manager jobs in the Dick’s organization – did not include hiring, firing, supervising, disciplining, or delegating work to employees, according to the suit. It says assistant managers also do not have the power to exercise any kind of “meaningful independent judgment and discretion.”

“The primary job duties of Mr. Bouchard and all other Class Members did not materially differ from the duties of non-exempt hourly paid employees,” the lawsuit states. “The performance of manual labor occupied the majority of the working hours for Mr. Bouchard and the Class Members.”

Despite having no real managerial duties or authority, the suit says, Dick’s assistant store managers are classified as exempt from Illinois’ overtime provisions. This alleged company-wide policy allows the retailer to schedule these employees to work more than 40 hours per week without paying them the time-and-a-half wages required by state law, the complaint alleges.

According to the lawsuit, Bouchard worked an average of 60 hours per week as an assistant manager, but did not receive any overtime pay. The suit asks the court to require Dick’s to discontinue that practice at all its Illinois stores.

The suit also asks that each of the affected employees or former employees in the class action receive the wages they are due for any week they worked more than 40 hours, at the time-and-a-half rate required by law, plus damages equal to 2 percent of the underpayment for every month they were underpaid.

The suit also asks that Dick’s cover the plaintiffs' court costs, and asks the court to award whatever further damages are permitted by law. Bouchard has requested a jury trial.

Other attorneys for the plaintiff named in the suit are Marc S. Hepworth, Charles Gershbaum, David A. Roth, and Rebecca S. Predovan of Hepworth, Gershbaum & Roth, PLLC; and Fran L. Rucdich and Seth R. Lesser of Klafter Olsen & Lesser LLP. Those attorneys are all with New York firms, and are awaiting pro hac vice.

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