A federal class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Jacksonville against Jimmy John's, alleging that the sandwich chain illegally underpaid assistant store managers throughout the country.
According to the complaint, "Regardless of the number of hours worked, Jimmy John's fails to pay [assistant store managers] any overtime compensation."
The company requires assistant store managers to perform food preparation and provide customer service as their primary duty, but classifies them as "executives" exempt from the overtime pay provisions, the lawsuit alleges.
"We're not saying they didn't perform any managerial duties," said Justin Swartz of Outten & Golden of New York, part of a three-firm law team that has brought the complaint. "But their primary duty is making sandwiches and serving customers."
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The legal team will seek to have the suit certified as a collective action to recover unpaid wages, service awards, interest and attorneys fees for eligible assistant store managers who worked at Jimmy John's since January 2012. Lawsuits under the Fair Labor Standards Act allow for up to double damages.
In FLSA suits, plaintiffs must opt in to a class, or collective, action. Swartz said the legal team will ask the judge to compel Jimmy John's to hand over names and addresses of people eligible to join the suit, then reach out to them and see if they care to join.
He estimated that the potential plaintiffs number in the thousands, and that cases such as this one generate an opt-in rate of 20 to 30 percent.
Three plaintiffs — Jay Rodriguez in Jacksonville, and one each in Chicago and Tuscaloosa, Alabama — brought suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division.
They are represented by Outten & Golden's New York office; Shavitz Law Group of Boca Raton; and Klafter Olsen & Lesser of Rye Brook, N.Y.