We have several Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases we are pursuing against the retail giant, Dollar General. Presently, we represent over 1600 store managers who allege they were misclassified and improperly labeled as bona fide “executive” employees. This label means that they are no longer eligible to receive overtime pay. Believe me, no matter what label Dollar General assigns to our clients, they were certainly not treated like any “executive” that I have ever run across. These store managers for Dollar General are some of the most hardworking folks out there today. They work anywhere from 60-80 hours every week and spend almost all of this time unloading trucks, stocking shelves, cleaning up the store and waiting on customers. Many times they are forced to work in the store alone because the corporate office will not provide enough payroll to have the stores sufficiently staffed.
Earlier in this litigation, a federal district court entered an order granting summary judgment against us relating to seven specially set cases. However, in the court’s written opinion, the judge explained that these were very difficult issues to decide and it recognized that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals had not yet ruled on a fact pattern similar to the one before it. Nevertheless, the judge felt that he was bound by a previous ruling of the Eleventh Circuit in a different case, and therefore, was compelled to dismiss our 7 lawsuits.
We promptly filed an appeal of these seven cases. Roman Shaul, the lawyer heading up this litigation, presented our side of the dispute at oral arguments to the Eleventh Circuit. Recently, we received an order from the Appeals Court asking that the district court revisit its decision in light of a new case they had just issued, and one which the district court never had an opportunity to review. This new opinion, issued after the district court made its ruling in our case, was factually similar to how Dollar General runs its business and went a long way toward clarifying some of the complicated issues the court raised in its initial order. The new case, Rodriguez v. Farm Stores Grocery, Inc., 518 F.3d 1259 (11th Cir. 2008) was a very important ruling that will greatly enhance the protections afforded employees under the FLSA. Based on this new opinion, and its obvious application to our cases, we are hopeful that we can proceed to trial by the end of this year.
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