Home Depot has found itself with a huge legal problems this week, as a group of managers at the home improvement giant have won class action status in a lawsuit they brought against their employer for unpaid overtime and unfair business practices. This could end up costing the company in the nine figure range. The following press release from the law firm representing the managers was received today by Sprawl- Busters: “In an order issued June 9, 2005, Riverside Superior Court Judge Roger Luebs has ruled that an action brought against Home Depot on behalf of middle-level managers for unpaid overtime wages and unfair business practices can proceed as a class action. The certified class consists of the thousands of Merchandising Assistant Store Managers who have worked in a Home Depot retail store in California at any time during the period July 30, 1997 through the present. The plaintiffs are represented by Kozberg & Bodell LLP, Slovak, Baron & Empey LLP and Anticouni & Associates. Home Depot owns and operates 186 retail stores in California. It requires its Merchandising Assistant Store Managers, employees who spend the majority of their time working on the sales floor, to work in excess of 55 hours per week, but does not to pay them overtime wages. The plaintiffs allege that Home Depot unlawfully characterizes its Merchandising Assistant Store Managers as exempt employees in order to deprive them of overtime wages, even though they spend the majority of their time doing the very same tasks as their non-exempt hourly co-workers. ‘For much too long Home Depot has taken unfair advantage of its Merchandising Assistant Store Managers, requiring them to work far beyond eight hours per day without additional overtime pay. Certification of the class takes us an important step closer to ensuring that the tireless efforts of Merchandising Assistant Store Managers, which have been so critical to the success of Home Depot in California, are compensated as California law requires’ stated Joel Kozberg, a partner at Kozberg & Bodell. ‘Given Home Depot’s substantial retail presence in California, we expect that the amount of the unpaid overtime wages due to Merchandising Assistant Store Managers from Home Depot will exceed $100 million’ commented plaintiffs’ lawyer Lucien Van Hulle of Slovak Baron & Empey. Under California law, workers are entitled to overtime pay unless they fall within one of the specified legal exemptions to paying overtime. Plaintiffs contend that Home Depot required them to spend the majority of their time performing non-management tasks and therefore do not qualify for any exemption under the wage and hour laws. Thus, Plaintiffs conclude, Home Depot should compensate each Merchandising Assistant Store Manager with overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.
For more information on this case, or a copy of the court order, contact Joel Kozberg, Kozberg & Bodell LLP, 1620 26th Street, Suite 6000N, Santa Monica, California 90404. TEL: 310.264.1729, FAX: 310.264.0709. For similar stories, search Newsflash by “Home Depot lawsuit”.