Former employees of Publix filed a federal lawsuit against the supermarket on Thursday claiming they were required to work overtime hours without getting paid.
According to the lawsuit filed by former hourly assistant department managers who worked in Tennessee, Florida and Georiga, they performed work off-the-clock both inside and outside of the store without compensation and were denied overtime pay. They said the unpaid work outside of their 40-hour shift included walking the department with supervisors, cleaning, organizing, stocking and assisting customers.
The employees also claimed they would clock out for meal breaks but were routinely interrupted during unpaid breaks to handle work matters like answering text messages.
They estimated that they worked on average five unpaid overtime hours per workweek or more for years, according to the lawsuit, and they want Publix to pay them back.
The lawsuit proposes a collective action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act to include similarly affected employees who worked within the past three years across Publix’s 1,300 locations throughout the Southeast. Any affected Publix assistant department managers can join the collective action.
According to a news release by Morgan & Morgan and Shavitz Law Group, they represent and have been contacted by dozens of affected employees who worked in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina who experienced the same issues.
“Every year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, American workers lose as much as $50 billion per year to wage theft. Our clients have experienced something many workers face as we all become reachable on our phones at any time of day or night — that companies expect employees to be in constant communication but fail to track this time worked. It’s unacceptable to force hourly workers to work outside of their shifts and to not pay workers for their time. We believe that the assistant department managers’ allegations only scratch the surface of Publix off-the-clock conditions. We will work to uncover all the evidence about the extent of these alleged harmful practices in order to hold Publix accountable and recover every possible dollar of these workers’ rightfully earned money,” Gregg Shavitz said.
News4JAX emailed Publix to get their reaction to the lawsuit but it did not immediately respond.