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Publix lawsuit alleges hundreds of unpaid overtime hours owed

Publix Super Markets faces a possible collective-action lawsuit involving assistant department managers who claim they were forced to work unpaid time beyond regulation.

Lawyers for 3 current and past employees filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the corporate didn’t pay the hourly employees for lots of of time beyond regulation hours they routinely worked before and after clocking in and while on unpaid meal breaks. Lawyers for Morgan & Morgan and Shavitz Law Group filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, based in Tampa.

In line with the suit, the plaintiffs worked at Publix stores in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. The Florida plaintiff previously worked at a Publix in Spring Hill, the suit says. Publix, which operates greater than 1,300 stores in seven states with over 250,000 employees, has its headquarters in Lakeland.

The staff filed the lawsuit as a collective motion under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. It proposed a collective of all non-exempt, hourly paid assistant department managers who worked over 40 hours in any workweek at Publix stores from Oct. 18, 2020 to the date of judgment on the suit.

The lawsuit requires a judge’s approval for the collective motion to go forward.

Also: Publix’s rebuilt Oakbridge store in Lakeland is scheduled to open on November 9.

The grievance alleges that the assistant department managers worked prior to clocking in to start out their shifts and after clocking out to finish their shifts, performing tasks that included walking departments with supervisors, cleansing, organizing, stocking, and assisting customers.

The staff were also routinely interrupted during unpaid breaks to handle work matters, similar to responding to co-workers’ or supervisors’ inquiries by text or phone call, assisting customers, or completing paperwork and reports, the suit says. Because of this, the staff didn’t receive either a full meal break or full payment for his or her work, the grievance alleges.

The assistant managers also performed unpaid work outside of stores by communicating with co-workers and supervisors through phone calls, text messages, or chats about work-related matters, the suit claims. Those conversations covered scheduling, staffing, operations, goods and supplies, and customers, in response to the grievance.

Publix didn’t provide a way for the staff to record and be paid for duties performed outside of the shop, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs estimated working a mean of a minimum of five unpaid time beyond regulation hours per workweek, in response to the grievance. Publix’s policies and procedures required the staff to perform the unpaid work, the suit says.

Publix knew or must have known that the assistant managers worked unpaid time because store managers and other employees witnessed and allowed the activities inside and out of doors stores, the suit alleges.

Publix’s communications office had not responded to a request for comment by late Thursday afternoon.

The suit asks that each one employees in the identical category receive notice of the civil motion and of their right to hitch the lawsuit. The lawyers are requesting that the plaintiffs receive unpaid time beyond regulation pay, in addition to damages. The suit seeks injunctive relief to treatment the alleged violations, including an order that Publix discontinue the practice.

In a news release, Morgan & Morgan said the collective motion could involve 1000’s of Publix assistant department managers. The lawyers have been contacted by dozens of affected employees in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the discharge said.

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