Grocery salesman seeks overtime pay in lawsuit

By Jim Boyle | Jun 3, 2014

A salesman for a grocery distributor says he is entitled for overtime pay from his employer, according to a federal suit filed last week at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Brian Place, of Schuylkill County, Pa., says his regular salary did not fully compensate the amount of hours he worked as a sales administrator for Sure Winner Foods, a Maine-based distributor of mostly frozen foods. He claims that the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act.

According to the complaint, Place worked for Sure Winner Foods between February and April of 2014. In those three months, he traveled to stores in central and eastern Pennsylvania and stocked products on the clients' shelves. Place says he spent well over the 40 hours per week standard schedule, but he was classified as exempt from overtime pay and received a fixed salary.

The plaintiff says his exempt status is wrong and that other employees in a similar position are being cheated out of deserved wages, specifically between 2011 and 2014. He seeks not only individual relief from Sure Winner, but has also filed for collective relief for any other employees that wish to step forward.

According to the Department of Labor website, employers are required to pay at least time and-a-half compensation to any employee that works one hour or more over 40 hours in a work week. There are plenty of exemptions to the rule, including outside sales representatives, the suit says. In order to qualify for that particular exemption, the employee must spend most of his time on the road conducting business at the customer's location, and he must receive consideration from the client.

Place seeks injunctive relief from the court, requiring Sure Winner Foods to immediately start paying sales merchandisers overtime compensation and provide payment to the plaintiff for his lost wages. He also seeks an order requiring his employer to investigate the number of hours worked by other sales administrators and compensate them accordingly.

The plaintiff is represented by Jason Brown of the JTB Law Group out of Jersey City, N.J.

The federal case ID number is 5:14-cv-03024-JKG.

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