Publix sued over overtime pay

Several former managers and assistant managers are suing Publix Super Markets, claiming they were underpaid for overtime work.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Panama City, Fla.

The suit claims Publix did not include regular bonuses the managers received in calculating their rate of overtime pay. The managers, who were non-exempt employees eligible for overtime, also claim they should have been paid using “time and a half” rates instead of “half time” rates when they worked more than 40 hours a week.

Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid said Friday that the company would have no comment. “We don’t comment on open litigation,” Reid said.

The plaintiffs include a former deli manager, two assistant deli managers and a bakery manager. Sean Culliton, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he wants the suit to represent all Publix managers and assistant managers, who he said regularly work 50 hours a week.

“This impacts a lot of employees,” Culliton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “Our goal is to get them paid what they have earned.”

The suit claims Publix is in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires bonuses to be included in base wages used to determine overtime rates. The plaintiffs also argue that because their pay is not “fixed” like other employees’ pay due to the bonuses, they should have been paid at a rate of time and a half instead of half time.

An hourly worker’s regular weekly pay rate is determined by taking a base wage and dividing it by 40 hours. The regular pay rate is then multiplied by 1.5 to come up with a time-and-a-half overtime rate. The regular pay rate is divided by 2 to come up with a half-time rate. The overtime rates in both cases are then multiplied by the number of excess hours worked to come up with the overtime pay.

The plaintiffs  are seeking unpaid overtime compensation plus damages. They also want attorney fees and court costs paid.

Publix has stores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee.

59 comments Add your comment

Homer

April 20th, 2012
5:36 pm

Just another example of how the job creators are screwing their workers. I am so sick of hearing about the put upon job creators as if they don’t need labor. Go ahead, Mr. and Mrs. Job Creator. Get yourself up at 4:00am to be at the bakery by 6:00am. You go stand on your feet for 50 hours a week, smiling at your crazy azz customers and kissing your crazy azz department managers’ butts then tell me how it feels to get screwed out of your overtime pay.

Silliness

April 20th, 2012
5:41 pm

I hope they did this after their first paycheck and not after months or years

Will

April 20th, 2012
5:48 pm

A lawyer came by and promised them a pile of money if they sue. These are manager jobs, not front line employee jobs. Likely rightfully classified as exempt from over time. This case is greedy employees and greedy lawyers screwing a good employers for a few bucks.
Publix is a good place to work and a good place to shop. This kind of suit is just insanity.

Old Devil

April 20th, 2012
6:08 pm

I don’t care whether they pay them or not, just as long as they don’t close. I MUST have my Sourdough bread from their bakery. It is like crack to me.

rod

April 20th, 2012
6:16 pm

Will can you read? It says these employees were classified as non exempt employees. Many many companies want to classify people one way and work them another. If they are managers do they have the power to hire and fire probably not. The Assistant Manager and the Store Manager probably have that power. That is Publix’s fault for not classifying their employees correctly. You can bet there was some advantage to the classification. Also there are too many people classifed as managers earning 30K and working 50 hours and they have no authority. I can beat those at the top of the food chain wouldn’t work all those hours for that pay. Advertise the job correctly and meet the government definition and you don’t have these problems. You can then pay people in effect 5$ per hour for working 60 hours a week and it’s legal. The only problem is they may not get the best people if they tell the truth about the job. Let the truth and the free market work.Will owns a business and doesn’t pay overtime but expects his hourly employees to work off the clock or be fired!

Bout Time

April 20th, 2012
6:29 pm

Only thing worse was when Walmart was caught making employees clock out then continue working on their assigned tasks.

James ATL

April 20th, 2012
6:31 pm

Publix is a good company and great place to shop. There aren’t too many companies left where someone with only a high school diploma can work their way up and make 100K+ as a store manager. I completely agree with Will. This is just some lawyer(s) trying to make some quick bucks.

Boo

April 20th, 2012
6:31 pm

There goes the bonuses!

Michael Miller

April 20th, 2012
6:49 pm

I have worked for Publix before. When i first read the article, i did find it hard to believe. However after reading the article, I think this should definitely be brought to trail for the facts to come out. If the managers did not have the ability to hire/fire people independently from the main store, then they are not true managers.

And at the same time, Publix has a right to set up what they are willing to pay people. If people don’t want it, they don’t have to work there, they can find a job elsewhere. This is called supply and demand. As for all the specifics of how overtime/bonus pay are calculated. I am not sure. A bonus is just that. A bonus.

Law student

April 20th, 2012
7:19 pm

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is an important comprehensive statute enacted by Congress to make sure employers pay non-exempt employees time and a half after forty hours. In my experience, I’m be amazed at the amount of misclassification and injustice done to employees by employers to save a buck. Moreover, Publix has lawyers in-house that monitor their labor and employment practices so there’s no excuse. The plaintiffs’ lawyers in this case wouldn’t have brought it if law wasn’t on their side.

Former Publix

April 20th, 2012
7:25 pm

As a former department manager and asst. store manager for Publix all I have to say is that when you are promoted into management you have to sign an agreement as to how you will be paid. All of the money you make while working is factored in to your bonus.

MrThief

April 20th, 2012
7:47 pm

Publix is great. I steal most of my food from Publix. Much better quality than Krogers, and easier to pocket. If you have to steal food, Publix gets MY vote.

Robert

April 20th, 2012
7:51 pm

Former publix. No matter what they signed, if it went against Federal Labor laws, publix is in the wrong. Beleive me i know about these laws. i am a federal employee.

Tracy

April 20th, 2012
8:09 pm

My husband is a bakery manager for Publix.Publix is a good company. It has good benefits and retirement incentives. However, they do have a problem with how they are paying department managers. His normal schedule is a 55 hour work week. However, it is not unusual for him to work 65-75 hour work weeks when they are short-handed. Most of the workers are sent home before they get to the point of being paid overtime, so it falls on the dept. managers to pick up the slack and basically do everything. After 40 hours, they only make half of their hourly rate. Does that sound right?

adam

April 20th, 2012
8:24 pm

They’re overpriced and they’re hamburger lady and hot dog lady at the sugarloaf and 316 store can kiss my butt. The store is just gonna raise prices to make up for what they lose in the lawsuit.

bulldogbubba

April 20th, 2012
9:06 pm

Worked in business for 30 years Good department heads take care of their departments regardless of how many hours they work.The store managers overlook them wworking off the clock to get the job done.The bean counters in the warehouse cut the hours in their departments and expect them to get the same amount of work done with less hours.It’s all about bonus money for the store manager so they don’t care if those people work for free as long as they don’t get caught.If they get caught then the st.manager plays dumb and say they did’nt know anything about it .This common practice in any chain store.

Christopher Sutter

April 20th, 2012
9:10 pm

What a joke! You can bet AJC will be hearing from me….they do not realize how well Publix provides for its managers…..We are paid well above industry average when you calculate our bonus…which I never recieved when working as a manager for a competitor in Atlanta. Take a poll…I guarentee…over 80% of Publix managers fell greatful to work for such a wonderful company. I would challenge anyone to see how many Publix employees were made millionaires by George Jenkins and his family……cant be said for other retail chains…..I know hourly workers who have worked their whole career for Publix and retired millionaires…most store managers are millionaires when they retire…..Sounds like UFCW…trash to me……these managers should go work for Kroger or Walmart…bet their experiences and compensation will be much worse.

A 15 year Publix Manager

KOOL

April 20th, 2012
9:34 pm

I was a former manager with Publix over 14 years. I now work for a competitor of Publix. Publix used to be a grand place to work, however, there was palpable decline that began some time around 2006. I managed a department that ranked at the top of the Atlanta Division in sales and net profit for many years. I have seen bullying and abusive supervisors and operations management kill morale for years. Many quality, hard working people have left the company. I still have many friends and old colleagues that still work for Publix, and unfortunately, not much has changed for the better.

On a positive note, Publix stock is employee owned. I still have all my old Publix stock. Their dividend checks are always a nice treat to receive every June, and that is the only time I enjoy hearing from them.

P.S. If any particular tyrants in upper management recognize who I am by this post, I will be continuing to encourage my friends and colleagues still there to seek greener pastures. You’re not the only game in town. Sadly, many under your tyranny are too brainwashed to recognize this fact.

Ronin

April 20th, 2012
9:40 pm

Rod @ 6:16, It’s a little different, a department manager with about 10-12 years at Publix can make 60-65k, not the 30k you mention. Most the staff I talk to at Publix like their position AND from a compensation viewpoint, the are head and shoulders above Kroger and Ingles.

Sounds like a plaintiff attorney is digging for gold, as they most always do.

Institute loser pays defense costs and see how many of the cases go away.

Rick

April 20th, 2012
9:51 pm

Unions…purely union driven. A great company. No better opportunity for the average person wanting to get ahead. Shame on the unions and trial lawyers….

KOOL

April 20th, 2012
10:07 pm

@ Christopher Sutter, Ronin and Rick- I am happy that you enjoy working under the direction of your management. Most of my supervisors were great. The last 2 or 3 I had were major league jack@$$e$. I needed to leave Publix to preserve my health and my sanity.

Shannon Curtis

April 20th, 2012
10:43 pm

So, what about teachers who work 70-80 hours a week and get no overtime, minimal government benefits (when compared with other government workers), and have to pay for their own officer supplies, work supplies, etc.

Ronin

April 20th, 2012
11:08 pm

@KOOL, never worked at Publix a day in my life. I’ve simply talked to employees over the years. Most are happy, but some simply don’t like the work. Sounds like you had a bad run of managers during your last few years, it happens, and you have to do what you have to to do when it’s best for you.

While not perfect, Publix, in general is an employee friendly company.

JT

April 20th, 2012
11:40 pm

i have worked for Publix for going on 7 yrs and I think the dept management is underpaid for what they do I am working on getting in to dept management because of the dept management I have worked under for the last yr and they way they have treated me I look forward to joining the management team at Publix and i know a couple of you posting on here :)

GoGators

April 21st, 2012
12:51 am

For YEARS, these managers called their overtime “Chinese overtime.” I would know – I worked at Publix for several years myself.

@KOOL – They also used these lawyers when it came time for kicking employees out the door. There is a Federal District Court case here in GA where the Plaintiff was hard of hearing and I think he was a back door receiver if I remember the case docs… Publix staff made him sign an application for time off as a requirement for FMLA leave – and if course they promptly fired the man for falsely filling out the app for time off. And the poor man was probably denied UI benefits. It’s very intentional and calculated. These new “Action Man” Managers they brought on board are nasty – OH they are nasty.

There have been repeated HIPPAA violations, minor violations, employee thefts committed by MANAGERS and Office Staff, assaults on employees, they threaten union proponents with firing, and they’ve had a security problem there with customers’ data being leaked out. They also punish workers for driving aggressively off the clock. THere is also a scandal where managers ORDERED employees not to vote for Obama – search for the story online.

Signed, FL Gators Fan – Go Gators!!

Bob Walters

April 21st, 2012
1:55 am

This story is just another example of the lunacy of US Government interference in the free market. These guys are crying because their bonuses weren’t included when calculating their overtime rate? Is this a belated April Fools joke? These guys should be happy to just have a job, let a alone get a bonus and overtime pay to boot. Maybe a few hours locked in the freezer might be a good way to readjust their attitudes.

Once we get socialisto Obama out of office, some off the top items on the agenda are to repeal the Fair Labor Standards Act, repeal the federal minimum wage laws, and shut down OSHA. The free markets should decide labor rates and working conditions. We don’t need some Washington bureaucrat dreaming up new regulations for the sake of job safety.

Changes are coming soon, like it or not. Tea Party 2012!!!

Ned Barbre Jr.

April 21st, 2012
9:13 am

I have owned my own business for 23 years and yes I paid overtime based on time and half, for hourly workers. That being said I now work for Publix now part time because I retired and draw Social Security and have limits to the amount I can earn yearly. For 2 years I worked full time at Publix and could receive overtime. It was a policy not to work over 40 hours a week, even by a few minutes. They did not like to pay that overtime, but I understand that. My manager and assistant manager were working more than 40 hours weekly and getting bonuses also. They were making up the slack in their departments because of hourly workers not allowed overtime. They also received nice bonus money and benefits. They have the options to step down from management for a slight cut in pay. Personally I think this suit is frivolous, but I am not an attorney. I enjoy working for Publix, and being employee owned is a good thing. Yes as all large business, they have problems, but I would encourage any young person to seek employment there. They can advance with a little effort, and be rewarded for doing so. Lawsuit NO, Good company YES!

Handlebar

Chuck Gorenc

April 21st, 2012
12:43 pm

Anyone who evaluates the total compensation package Publix offers to all associates would have to agree that It would be very difficult to find a more fairer company. The company provides everyone an opportunity to advance and it’s up to each individual to decide wheather or not they wish to do so. What we need are more companies that operate like Publix. I very much enjoyed my time working for Publix and now I’m happily retired, a big thanks to Publix. Yes I’m “Proud to be an owner”.

greatfull

April 21st, 2012
4:15 pm

most of you , dont even what you are talking about , number 1: no manager at public make 30 thousand at publix they all start in the 40’s. just go check our webside smarty. in 20 years i will be retired with a good pention but you will be living check to check from social security. publix is a great place to work do not mistaking greed with a few people that is lazy , yhat is trying to get a few buck for free

Jane

April 21st, 2012
6:26 pm

I’m sorry but if you actually work for this company, you would not argue over this insane lawsuit. I am a manager for Publix and they are a great company to work for. These managers have nothing better to do but to sit around and find some way to get money. Actually sue someone for a ligitimate reason and you may have a case. I hope you lose your case and find something better to do in your spare time then to sit around and find free money.

Former Publix

April 21st, 2012
10:51 pm

1. Yes, Publix is a great place for those with only high school diplomas or want a job with flexible hours. However, there has been a significant change in the company in the last five years or so. They care more about figures and less about their employees. For those of you that say they should just be happy to have a job- should anyone being treated unfairly keep their mouth shut because of fear of losing their jobs or should they speak up and demand fair and lawful employment?

2. No, not everyone can be promoted simply because they want to. You must play the game like anywhere else and kiss butt and follow orders like a good soldier even if it isn’t the right thing to do. There are many bullies and thugs with power and they exercise it frequently. I suggest anyone with strong morals and ethics not go into management there.

3. Yes, managers at Publix do get compensation higher than its competitors for similar hours, including inventory bonuses. But compensation, wage and bonuses, have been restructured recently too. They even put a cap on raises for a while because of the recession but continued to build new stores and increase stock price. Also, if they step down from management, it is NOT a small pay decrease, how small is dependent on the district manager and whether or not you are in his/her favor at that time.

4. For those of you concerned with the overtime on bonus portion, please reread the article. They are also suing for being paid overtime at half time rather than time and a half. The exclusion of bonuses in the calculation is just a part of it. This case could be thrown out or it could balloon and cover thousands of people like the harassment/discrimination case in 1997.

5. Publix does not have a union. And yes, they suggested to employees that they shouldn’t vote for Obama because he is pro union and Publix knows they would be royally screwed if one developed.

6. If you talk to employees and managers without being close friends or family, of course they will say they are happy to work there- that is what they are supposed to say. If they do or say anything to tarnish Publix’s golden image, they are black balled and mysteriously fired/demoted for [insert fake reason here].

7, Kudos to those of you who work for Publix and still bleed green, but if Publix is doing something illegal then it needs to be corrected and this is the only way to do it. Their internal investigations are a joke and are only useful in firing people, not protecting them. If they didn’t have a chance and this was a frivolous claim, no lawyer would take it to court.

Simply because a company is better than its competitors doesn’t mean it is perfect. Publix has a long way to go to get back to being a great place to work for everyone. I wonder if Mr. George Jenkins is rolling over in his grave yet…….

RAWR

April 21st, 2012
11:32 pm

@ Former Publix

You are 100% correct and I still bleed green but not for much longer. Going on 3 years here and am already sick of the politics and a$s kissing inorder to move up the line. Like the FACT, yes Fact that the AVS ( Assosciate voice survey) is only used to pinpoint unhappy employees and simply write them up until enough “evidence” is acquired to simply make them disappear. It’s not that hard when you require someone to bubble ( years employed, part time/full time, management/non-management, and department) I used to love working for this company until I found out too much.

Lucy

April 22nd, 2012
7:15 am

Who Do I have to Contact about this . I was a Assistant manager and went back down to full time . I Always taught the ripped us off :)

Former Publix

April 22nd, 2012
8:09 am

KOOL

April 22nd, 2012
9:38 am

Hear, here Former Publix. Your post @ 11:32pm was spot on.

KOOL

April 22nd, 2012
9:39 am

Oops… Former Publix, your post @ 10:51pm was spot on. :-)

Gimme More

April 22nd, 2012
10:24 am

Gimme….Gimme more….we live in the era of victimization….whah…it is always someone else’s fault. Man up….you dont like working somewhere then leave or how bout have some real balls and start your own business which is what Mr. Jenkins did….quit crying and start doing,….is all I have to say.
Begin….the rest is easy lol

Don Corleone

April 22nd, 2012
10:49 am

I have been employed with Publix 5 years, 4 of which have been in management. I feel honored and privilaged to be part of the Publix family. In those years I have been in management I have worked open to close shifts to cover somebody calling out. I have worked 6 days in a week to cover sombodys vacation. When its all said and done at the end of the week i still pull in no more than 55 hours. And guess what our Department looks incredible. How is that possible you say? Its because i am a manager. those managers that work 70-80 hours a week. Thats your fault not Publix. You are not being an effictive manager. You are probably such a prick to your associates they dont want to work with you. they dont work for you they work with you.You need to manage your time wisly and manage your associates. That is really a true manager . Who cares if you cant hire/fire. If thats all you want to do as a manager than go work for ingles or kroger. Publix… Where Shopping and WORKING is a Pleasure!!!! Just Sayin!!!

kc

April 22nd, 2012
3:44 pm

As a Publix manager we get paid VERY WELL. I don’t bleed green, I work to live and this company allows me to have a very good life. I never work more than 50 hours a week. I knew that 50 hours was the requirement when I took the promotion. We don’t need a union, we OWN the company.

publix associate

April 22nd, 2012
5:52 pm

im a manager for publix. in general publix is a great company to work for. certain stores do have problems. mine for instance has an upstart store manager trying to have perfect numbers regardless if impossible to obtain. for instance our grocery team has recently had 5 associates quit. basically leaving them with 3 full timers and 5 part timers, and the grocery manager is on leave. yet he has not attempted to hire any associates. so to say a manager that has to work 70 hours cant manage his or her time is ludicrous. in the same store we have a meat manager that has almost 40 years in and might be the most unproductive associate in publix history. he makes his assistant work 2 and 3 nights a week to his 1 and will keep his assistant late so he can stand around. its things like this that makes certain stores bad. but we know not all stores are like this.

Homer

April 22nd, 2012
6:03 pm

I think it’s great that people without college degrees can work themselves up the chain at Publix and make a nice salary. I think it’s terrible that Publix is breaking the law by paying half time instead of time and a half to non exempt employees just because they can get away with it. Would it be okay for their employees to walk out the store with a ribeye steak in their pocket every day just because they can get away with it?

mill5

April 23rd, 2012
6:54 am

Publix > Kroger in all areas–no contest.

Gimme More

April 23rd, 2012
7:08 am

Homer…and all the rest of the Union or Obamaites….Publix managers make more than most in their industry…if you listen to what most of the managers who responded are saying. Not the ones who are disgruntled former associates..who have an ax to grind…but in your terms…the 99% who like having a job…..Publix employs and pays its associates…and one thing I have noticed as a Atlanta resident…they are still opening stores and hiring more people….while alot of these great Union companies are closing stores and laying off people…..the big picture is jobs people…..lets feed our families first….let the market take care of itself and get government off companies backs so they can create jobs…………pay issues should be settled by employees and companies…not unions and government bureaucrats…..America was made great by creative individuals who take responsibility…not whiners like these four….former managers….get that….former….that means they were not happy and left…..get a life…all you perisites…and moochers

Homer

April 23rd, 2012
8:55 am

Gimme more, no one is asking for something to which they are not entitled. If Publix is such a wonderful employer then they should be paying time and a half, not half time. What’s the difference between a Publix department manager helping him/herself to a five finger discount, and Publix Corporate managers helping themselves to a portion of the department managers’ wages? It’s stealing in both cases, and it has nothing to do with unionization. When the free market becomes a free for all, then you have debacles like the mortgage meltdown and Enron. It’s anything but free.

Union!

April 23rd, 2012
10:48 am

the unions need to get publix workers to unionize to protect their rights—employees aren’t being paid enough money — with a union, they could go on strike when needed to get more money and benefits.

Gimme More

April 23rd, 2012
11:52 am

LOL…Unions are the problem…want to be in a Union…move to Ohio or Michigan or California….land of Unions and also…land of declining economies….Detriot used to be a major metropolis…now it is turning into a wasteland….that is what Unions do for you. The Individual is King…..Freedom and Responsibility is what made this country great…not whiners or moochers…..Get that Freedom…..and Responsibility….most liberals dont understand what responsiblity for oneself is so had to make sure your heard it right

Gimme More

April 23rd, 2012
11:55 am

And Homer….you dont understand how Publix managers are paid…why dont you ask one how much he makes…then walk across the street to Kroger and ask them how much they make. You would be surprised.

Homer

April 23rd, 2012
1:07 pm

Gimme more, you sound like the kind of person that would fool around on their spouse and justify it by thinking that the spouse would never get a better deal anywhere else. After all, the neighbor fools around, too and his/her spouse doesn’t even get a new car every year.

Alex motelo

April 23rd, 2012
3:24 pm

Not a violation. Bonuses are not included in ur salary and they are not required. Why not talk about good stuff like Publix’s profit sharing, paid vacations, and one of the highest retail pays. Fww salaries are about the same in all companies. Publix needs to win and counter sue for legal fees.