Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 9:47 AM

Bitter Former Employees Sue The Hershey Company, Finding No Sweetness in Lack of Overtime Pay

The Hershey Company has been sued by former sales representatives in federal district court in the Northern District of California, who allege that they were misclassified and deprived of their overtime pay. The lawsuit alleges that Hershey executives purposefully misclassified the employees in the same manner as the same executives had when at Nabisco Inc. Nabisco paid $5 million to its affected employees after the Department of Labor took action against the company for alleged misclassification of sales representatives. Clearly, Hershey sales representatives are hoping for a similar result in their efforts.

Plaintiffs describe their job duties as merchandising, as opposed to selling products or services. "Merchandising" could be considered a non-exempt position as opposed to strictly sales work, which is not generally eligible for overtime compensation under California or federal law. Hershey's "realigned" its sale force in 2003 and the plaintiffs assert that Hershey's should have known that these changes would require the workers be classified as non-exempt. The DOL's handbook on overtime, can be found by clicking here.

The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, damages, attorneys' fees and costs and propose a nationwide class of all salespersons employed by Hershey from January 1, 2004 through the present, with a subclass for all California employees of the same class.

The complaint in Campanelli v. The Hershey Company, Case No. CV-08-1862 filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, can be read by clicking here. Employers involved in sales and merchandising should review either themselves or with the aid of counsel the job descriptions for their sales and/or merchandising employees and ensure that they have complied with the FLSA in classifying their employees.


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