Two DeKalb County women are among the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the Dollar General Store Co.

About 2,500 former and current Dollar General store managers have filed a joint lawsuit in U.S. District Court, alleging the company intentionally misclassified them as executives in order to avoid paying overtime. The suit claims this violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Local plaintiffs involved include Mary E. White, of Fort Payne, and Mitchell Carol, of Collinsville.

A second lawsuit, setting out the same claims, has been filed by a single plaintiff that suit also seeks certification as a collective action for all persons seeking overtime pay as Dollar General store managers.

Each lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tuscaloosa because the federal court system has established a single multi district litigation court to handle all the claims against Dollar General, according to Dee Miles, a representative of Beasley Allen, the Montgomery law firm handling the case.

Miles said a similar lawsuit by store managers employed by Family Dollar Stores resulted in a $38 million jury award. That case is currently before the trail court on a motion for a new trial filed by Family Dollar.

According to Miles, two similar lawsuits were recently filed against Fred’s by that companies store managers one in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ga. and another in Birmingham Federal Court.

Each of those cases seeks certification of a nationwide collective action for all assistant managers for misclassifying them under the executive exemption of the FLSA.

Miles said that exemption allows companies to pay store managers a set salary and avoid paying them overtime in the event a store manager works more than 40 hours. However, Miles said the exemption also requires managers actually perform management duties as their primary function, as opposed to manual labor. Miles said its very clear that store managers of discount retail stores like Dollar General don’t qualify as executives.

Miles said all the complaints filed against Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Fred’s allege the companies forced managers to work from 60 to 80 hours of manual labor a week as their primary duty and that they spent as little as 10 percent of their actual time performing management duties, which results in free labor for the companies.

Labor cost is reduced, the companies highest expense, resulting in increased profits, all on the backs of the store managers, Miles said. The FLSA is specifically designed to prevent this very scheme where these companies are trying to cheat working folks out of a fair days pay for a fair days work.

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