Amazon Managers in Calif. Not OT-Exempt, Suit Says

A proposed class action, which was just removed to federal court, alleges that Amazon failed to pay area managers in California the overtime they were entitled to because their roles did not fall under exemptions from overtime requirements.

The suit was removed to California federal court on the March 4 by Amazon.com Services LLC. The suit claims an area manager and her colleagues were denied overtime even though they didn't meet the executive, administrative or professional exemptions that would have exempted them from being paid overtime, which is in violation of the state labor law.

"Plaintiff alleges based on the job duties or responsibilities of an area manager she and all other similarly situated employees did not meet the criteria of any recognized test in California for being exempt from receiving overtime compensation," the suit said.

Briana Gallardo said in her lawsuit, originally filed in California state court in January, that she didn't meet the executive, administrative or professional exemptions as an area manager.

Under California law, employees are considered executives if, among other things, they "customarily and regularly" exercise independent judgment, supervise at least two other employees' work and have the authority of firing other workers.

The professional exemption frees employers from overtime, minimum wage and rest and meal break requirements for employees who are "primarily engaged in an occupation commonly recognized as a learned or artistic profession"; have independent judgment while performing their jobs; and get a monthly salary that's no less than the state's minimum wage. Though Gallardo acknowledged she made twice the state's minimum wage, she said she was paid on an hourly and not salary basis.

Employees who have independent judgment, whose duties involve nonmanual work directly related to management policies, who perform special assignments under general supervision, and who regularly and directly assist an employee who is a bona fide executive fall under the administrative exemption.

Gallardo, who was hired in January 2021, said Amazon not only failed to pay area managers time and a half their regular rate of pay for their overtime, but also failed to pay them minimum wage for all hours they worked beyond 40 hours per week.

Gallardo did not specify in her complaint how often she worked overtime.

Additionally, Amazon also failed to maintain accurate wage statements for area managers by not including how many hours they worked and categorizing personal and vacation time as compensation instead of benefits.

Gallardo filed her proposed class action in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, on Jan. 13, seeking to represent a class of Amazon workers in California who were not paid overtime and minimum wage for all hours worked and did not receive accurate wage statements in the past four years.

She expected that more than 500 employees would be part of the class.

Gallardo seeks to recover unpaid wages, damages and attorney fees and costs.

Ryan Stygar of Centurion Trial Attorneys, who is representing Gallardo, on Monday called the allegations "very serious considering the long hours and challenging pace of work these employees must go through."

"We feel it's time for Amazon to make this right," Stygar said.

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