© 2024 WLRN
MIAMI | SOUTH FLORIDA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Federal lawsuit seeks back pay for unpaid overtime work by Publix department managers

Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 250,000 associates. It operates 1,358 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
Howard Cohen
/
Miami Herald
Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 250,000 associates. It operates 1,358 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

A group of hourly-paid department managers this week joined assistant department managers in a federal lawsuit against Publix, alleging the regional supermarket chain failed to pay them overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The lawsuit, originally filed Oct. 26 in Tampa federal court, seeks back pay for the extra hours worked beyond the 40-hour work week. An amended complaint filed Tuesday added managers who work hourly to include those in the bakery, deli, meat and seafood departments.

Nearly 40 assistant department managers and almost 20 department managers have signed on to the collective lawsuit.

READ MORE: Starbucks workers at Miami Springs store join nationwide strike against coffee retailer

A Publix spokesperson told the Miami Herald it does not typically comment on pending litigation, but found it necessary to respond "due to the nature of the [lawsuit] claims."

“As an associate-owned company, we are proud to provide our associates with a comprehensive benefits package – including company ownership – in addition to paying our associates in accordance with the law. We take these claims seriously and will respond appropriately.”

The Publix employees are being represented by attorneys with Morgan & Morgan and Shavitz Law Group. These employees work in Florida, Tennessee and Georgia for the regional supermarket chain.

“Plaintiffs allege they were not only compelled to complete various tasks in the stores before clocking in and after clocking out, but also that they were expected to answer texts from colleagues both after-hours and during unpaid lunch breaks,” said the attorneys in a joint statement. “Plaintiffs allege Publix owes them overtime pay for these off-the-clock hours.”

The lawsuit seeks back pay for Publix middle-level managers at the chain’s 1,300 stores in Florida and the Southeast.

“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,” said the attorneys. “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,” the attorneys said. “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.”

Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 250,000 associates. It operates 1,358 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The company, which is not publicly traded, announced earlier this month that 2023 sales revenue topped $42 billion, an 8.1% rise from $39.2 billion in the previous year. Net earnings for the first nine months of year reached $3.2 billion, an increase of 93% over the previous year.

Sergio Bustos is WLRN's Vice President for News. He's been an editor at the Miami Herald and POLITICO Florida. Most recently, Bustos was Enterprise/Politics Editor for the USA Today Network-Florida’s 18 newsrooms. Reach him at sbustos@wlrnnews.org
More On This Topic