A jury verdict in Missouri federal court has awarded 286 Steak N’ Shake “managers” at the chain restaurant’s St. Louis, Missouri area locations $2.9 million for their allegations of unpaid overtime pay in violation of state and federal law. The managers claim the St. Louis Steak N’ Shake locations misclassified them as exempt from overtime pay despite the fact that they spent the majority of their time performing production and service duties rather than exempt managerial responsibilities. The majority of the job duties the managers say they actually performed included overtime pay-eligible tasks such as greeting and seating customers, taking and serving customer orders, making burgers and fries, making shakes and other drinks, working the drive-thru, cleaning dishes and the restaurant, and cashing customers out.
Lawyers for the managers allege the Steak N’ Shake restaurants employed General Managers, who were the highest “management” employees at each location responsible for exempt duties and responsibilities including setting managers’ work duties and stations on a predetermined schedule and directing the managers’ in their daily tasks. Steak N’ Shake also employs District Managers responsible for tracking daily sales numbers for multiple restaurant locations. According to the managers, Steak N’ Shake intentionally understaffed its St. Louis area restaurant locations, instead paying managers a weekly salary and instructing them to perform non-exempt duties for the majority of their work.
Attorneys for the managers say they will continue to litigate another case alleging Steak N’ Shake used the same practice of misclassifying managers at its restaurant locations in the burger chain’s remaining U.S. markets of Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Dallas, Indianapolis, Orlando, and Atlanta.