Unpaid Overtime Class Action Granted Class Certification

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has granted class certification of a group of “fresh department managers” who worked for Hannaford Brothers grocery store and are seeking to recover unpaid overtime and Sunday pay compensation.

United States District Court, District of Massachusetts

SUMMARY: (court decision – opens in PDF)

“Judith Prinzo (‘Prinzo’) requests that this Court certify a class comprised of ‘all individuals who worked as fresh department managers for Hannaford [Hannaford Bros. Co, LLC (‘Hannaford’)] in Massachusetts between January 12, 2018, and the present, or such other classes or sub-classes that the Court deems appropriate.’ …

“… After careful consideration, this Court finds that all the requirements for class certification under Rule 23 are met, and therefore orders certification of the following class: ‘All persons who work or have worked between January 12, 2018 and the present for Hannaford in Massachusetts as fresh department managers — including all (i) Bakery Sales Managers, (ii) Deli Sales Managers, (iii) Deli/Bakery Sales Managers, (iv) Produce Sales Managers, (v) Meat Market Managers, (vi) Meat Market/Seafood Sales Managers, and (vii) Deli/Seafood Managers — who did not receive overtime premium pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, did not receive a premium for hours worked on Sunday, or did not receive a premium for hours worked on Protected Holidays.’ …

“Hannaford, virtually conceding numerosity, typicality, adequacy, and superiority, opposes class certification, citing issues with commonality and predominance. … Both of Hannaford’s objections fail because the commonality and predominance requirements are present here. …

“Here, Prinzo defines a class with sufficient common elements to warrant certification. All class members have purportedly suffered an identical injury and their grievances are based on the same contention: they have been misclassified as exempt workers. And whether such misclassification has indeed taken place turns on the same factual and legal inquiry: whether their ‘primary duty’ is the performance of exempt work. … Moreover, as discussed below, the primary duty inquiry — which is central to all the class members’ claims — is susceptible to common proof. … Therefore, the commonality requirement is met. … “In the instant controversy, there is one key inquiry as to liability: whether Hannaford’s department managers have been misclassified as exempt. … That issue turns on the nature of department managers’ ‘primary duty.’ …

“Here, Hannaford’s corporate policies and procedures — including training protocols, ‘standard practice’ materials, labor standards, scheduling systems, standardized pay ranges, and Kronos data — constitute sufficient common evidence to allow for class-wide adjudication. These resources will provide common answers about all the essential factors underpinning the ‘primary duty’ inquiry, including (1) the relative importance of fresh department managers’ exempt duties as compared with other types of duties, (2) the amount of time fresh department managers spend performing exempt work, (3) fresh department managers’ relative freedom from direct supervision, (4) and the relationship between the salary of fresh department managers and the wages paid to hourly employees. Moreover, the evidence offered by Hannaford has not persuaded this Court that the differences in job responsibilities between fresh department managers are sufficient to discount the probatory significance of the common evidence submitted by Prinzo or otherwise prevent class-wide adjudication. Accordingly, the predominance requirement is satisfied.”



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