FLSA Overtime Plaintiffs Only Need To Plead 40+ Hour Workweeks

Employment Law

A complaint alleging that employees were misclassified as managers and regularly worked more than 40 hours per week had sufficient allegations to keep the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action for overtime alive, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined.  

A group of 13 former employees at a New York retailer, all of whom had titles with the term “manager” (including “assistant floor manager,” “floor manager” and “sales manager”), alleged that they were misclassified as exempt managerial employees and not paid overtime as required by the FLSA.  

Despite their job titles, the plaintiffs said their actual duties were non-managerial. They also claimed that they were not completely relieved from duty during lunch breaks and frequently worked additional hours that were not part of their regular schedules.  

For example, employees that worked the closing shift were required to engage in “post-work duties” such as drafting and sending end-of-day reports and messaging clients, which added roughly five hours per week; employees also worked an additional three hours per week handling shipments of merchandise as well as extra hours when a seasonal changeover of merchandise occurred.  

The employer moved to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to allege the number of hours an employee worked with the requisite level of specificity. The district court agreed, granting the motion.  

But the federal appellate panel reversed.  

“Where the Plaintiffs plausibly allege that they worked more than forty hours per week as part of their regularly scheduled workweek, they have adequately stated a claim under the FLSA and need not list the specific workweeks during which they worked more than forty hours,” the court wrote.  

Plaintiffs must provide some degree of specificity in order to sufficiently plead an FLSA overtime claim – but nothing more is required, the court said.  

The complaint alleged that the plaintiffs’ regularly scheduled work hours consisted of five shifts each week, and that each shift lasted between eight and three-quarters hours and nine hours, amounting to between 43.75 and 45 hours of work per regular week.  

“That allegation itself gets us ‘beyond forty hours in any given [work]week, and therefore to a plausible claim of overtime,’” the court said.  

Other allegations in the complaint independently supported the claim that the plaintiffs exceeded 40 hours in their regular workweek and were entitled to overtime, from the post-work duties to merchandise shipments.  

“Viewed singly or together, these allegations carry the Plaintiffs over the forty-hour bar and permit us to infer that they were entitled to overtime under the FLSA,” the court wrote.  

The Second Circuit rejected the employer’s position that a complaint must identify each week that the plaintiffs worked their regular schedule.  

“The level of specificity that the Defendants demand goes too far,” the court said. “It would generate voluminous, tedious complaints and compel plaintiffs to record their work schedules with a level of precision and care at odds with our admonition that plaintiffs in FLSA cases are not obligated ‘to keep careful records and plead their hours with mathematical precision.’” 

Instead, the court explained that the pleading standard is satisfied where the plaintiffs allege that their regularly scheduled workweek for a given period of time included more than 40 hours of work so that they were eligible for overtime during every week in which they worked their regular schedule.  

To read the opinion Herrera v. Comme Des Garcons, Ltd., click here.

Why it matters

The Second Circuit refused to adopt the employer’s pleading standard, which would have required FLSA plaintiffs to identify each week that they allegedly worked in excess of 40 hours. Circuit precedent doesn’t reflect this mandate, the court said, and it would result in “voluminous, tedious complaints.” 



pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

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