Over 460 Hooters restaurants across the country purposefully misclassified its Assistant Store Managers (“ASM”) as supervisors to avoid paying them overtime wages, according to a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit claims Hooters paid ASMs a set weekly salary regardless of the number of hours they actually worked without any overtime wages, despite their lack of managerial responsibility necessary to be exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. For example, the ASMs claim that their primary duty was non-managerial functions, including running the cash register, stocking merchandise, and janitorial duties, and not managerial tasks like managing and directing the work of other workers at the restaurant. Further, they contend that they did not have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or make suggestions as to the hiring, firing, advancement, or any other change of status of other employees. The ASMs noted that if they did create schedules for other restaurant workers, Hooters almost always changed those schedules, and that they could not control merchandise pricing or how goods in the store were displayed.
The lawsuit also claims that the ASMs routinely worked 70-80 hours a week without any overtime pay of time and a half their regular hourly rate for all hours worked over forty per week. The ASMs allege that Hooters intentionally hid the classification status of its workers from the government and the ASMs themselves for at least 10 years in order to avoid suspicion and inquiry by employees regarding their entitlement to monies owed to them. The lawsuit asked the court to permit the ASMs to notify current and former ASMs who worked at a Hooters restaurant anywhere in the country within the last three years to allow them to opt-into the action.