Friday, July 25, 2008, 11:08 AM

There Are No Happy Meals, Allege Disgruntled McDonald's Employees

Yet another service industry FLSA suit has been filed this month, with a former assistant manager of a McDonald's fast food restaurant alleging that McDonald's misclassified assistant managers as exempt and failed to pay overtime wages. Ms. Alissa Justison filed her suit on behalf of former and current assistant managers of McDonald's in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware this past week. Ms. Justison alleged the problems began during a three-month long training program off-site, which required more than 40 hours per week. She alleged that she was forced to drive a hour and a half without compensation for this training. The plaintiff further alleged that she (and others) was often required to work through her meals without compensation.

In the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that McDonald's designation of assistant managers as exempt, particularly during the training period, was erroneous because trainees have no authority or supervisory power. The complaint catalogs the various ways in which trainee assistant managers should not have been classified as exempt under the FLSA. To read the Justison complaint filed against McDonald's, click here.

As with internship and externship programs recently discussed, employers should review their treatment of trainees to ensure FLSA compliance. FLSA regulations state that the exemptions (executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer employee) do not apply to employees training for employment in an executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer employee capacity "who are not actually performing the duties of an executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer employee." Click here for the regulatory text found at 29 CFR 541.705. A proper review must focus on the duties that the trainees actually perform is critical for determining whether the exemption is applicable or whether overtime compensation may be required.

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