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The Whole Industry Does it This Way

Nov 03, 2023

“This is the way we’ve always done it.” Unfortunately, this is not a legal defense and Publix supermarket is finding this out the hard way.

Three former Publix employees filed a class action lawsuit in Florida alleging they were not paid for overtime by the company. The former assistant department managers allege Publix did not pay them for pre-shift and post-shift work, they spent time working during unpaid breaks, and spent time communicating with supervisors after they had ready clocked out.

Since it’s now a class action lawsuit, Plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking any assistant department manager with similar circumstances to join the case.

Think this can only happen to large corporations? Please think again.

Here are ways companies can (and will) get into trouble when paying wages to their employees:

1. Misclassification - calling a worker a 1099 independent contractor, when the worker is legally an employee

2. Unpaid Wages/Overtime- paying an employee a salary only when they should be paid hourly and overtime.

3. Off the clock - allowing employees to work when they are clocked out. This includes performing tasks (1) during an unpaid lunch break, (2) before clocking in or (3) after clocking out.

This even includes minor tasks like answering a text message while clocked out.

How businesses can avoid these types of lawsuits:

1. Train managers so they know what to look out for and what is illegal

2. Consult with an employment attorney and conduct a legal HR Audit before a legal disaster arises and before a complaint is filed.

Businesses can substantially limit risk and reduce exposure to employee lawsuits if they follow the above two best practices.


Have we met? I’m a Florida employment lawyer, workplace investigator and workplace trainer on employment laws. I help my clients navigate tricky workplace situations and comply with employment laws through legal advice and counseling, workshops/customized trainings for managers, HR and preparation of legal agreements.


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