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In a recently filed employment lawsuit against social media behemoth Facebook in the Northern District Court of Illinois, an employee is seeking class action status to pursue FLSA claims of overtime theft due to employee misclassification. Basically, the lawsuit alleges that Facebook's "Customer Solutions Managers," "Client Solutions Managers," "Account Managers," and other similar "manager" jobs, were not actually management jobs at all.
The plaintiff claims the jobs should not qualify for exempt status, and thus, these alleged "managers" should have been receiving overtime. If successful, many other media-type businesses might need to re-review employment classifications for similar positions.
Duties Over Titles
You can call the dishwasher at a restaurant the company president, but so long as their job duties remain the same, they should be classed as a non-exempt employee and paid overtime (if they work it). Whether an employee is properly exempt or non-exempt boils down to the actual job rather than the title of the job.
This new Facebook lawsuit asserts that these "manager" positions were actual production type positions or sales positions (selling Facebook advertising), and involved no operational or business management duties. Further, the lawsuit makes clear that these manger positions do not involve the exercise of independent judgment or individual discretion. And also alleges that these employees regularly worked overtime, for which, they were not compensated.
Deny and Fight
Like any major corporation, Facebook has taken the position of denying and fighting these claims. Unfortunately for the corporation, the lawsuit lays out, in brutal detail, facts that seem to paint a rather clear picture of employees being misclassified in order to be underpaid. Additionally, the class allegations provide a clear and definable group of wronged individuals who all share an all too unfortunate common set of facts.
But, as has been seen before, cases such as these, where the stakes are high not just for past damages but also for future liability, can be mired by the arbitration clauses in employment agreements. Also, how can anyone forget about the aggressive lawyering that can hold up a matter for half a decade or more.