Thursday, July 24, 2008, 3:10 PM

Seventh Circuit Gives Former Family Dollar Manager Another Chance

The Seventh Circuit reversed the District Court's summary judgment ruling in favor of Family Dollar. In Brown v. Family Dollar Stores of Indiana, Vivian Brown claimed that she had worked off-the-clock as an assistant store manager and store manager for Family Dollar. The District Court held that Brown had the burden of proving she worked overtime for which she was not properly compensated and that she had failed to prove with "definite and certain evidence" that she had in fact performed such work.

On appeal, the Seventh Circuit held that the District Court erred in analyzing and applying the United States Supreme Court's holding in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. The Court stated that the "definite and certain evidence" requirement applied to establishing damages in determining for how many hours the employee was not compensated, but was not the proper standard for determining whether the employee had in fact worked off-the-clock. If the employer's records are kept in compliance with the FLSA, determining damages is not difficult. However, in most cases, when off-the-clock work is alleged, there are no time records for the work. In the latter case, when the employer has failed to keep the proper and accurate records required by the FLSA, the employer rather than the employee should bear the consequences of that failure.

In Brown's case, she submitted evidence that her time sheets were altered after she submitted them and, therefore, her time sheets and paychecks did not reflect the actual hours worked. Brown also submitted evidence that other employees experienced the same time sheet alterations. Furthermore, she submitted evidence that the store was open later and at times not reflected on her time sheets. Based upon the District Court's application of the wrong standard of proof required of Brown and the evidence submitted by Brown, the Court reversed and remanded the case back to the District Court.

Family Dollar also faces several other class actions filed in Florida and Colorado.

To read more of the Court's opinion in Brown, click here.

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