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Collective Action Certified Against Lowes:
This past Friday, January 10, 2014 the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted a conditional certification of collective class against Lowes Home Centers in a lawsuit alleging the retailer willfully and intentionally engaged in a nationwide pattern and practice of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by miss-classifying Human Resources Managers as exempt and then failing to pay them overtime wages.

The Fair Labor Standards Act expressly permits collective actions against employers. The judge must determine whether there are similarly situated employees who desire to opt-in. Collective actions permit many employees to collectively bring their claims against an employer in a single lawsuit and can have a devistating impact on the employer. As in this case, the misclassification of employees as exempt, that is exempt from receiving overtime wages, is one of the most frequent causes of employer liability.

There are narrow exemptions to the wage and hour law, and the employer bears the burden of proving that an employee is exempt based upon the employee's job duties and pay level.

The judge ordered the two sides to provide briefs as to the means of notifying the potential class members. The plaintiff employer requested that Lowes be required to post notices in all of its stores. Lowes countered that most of the employees are not potential class members and thus a less intrusive means of notifying potential class members should be employed.

The judge will rule once he receives the legal briefs.

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