Recent lawsuits in Nevada accuse Circle K Stores Inc. and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. of misclassifying employees to avoid paying overtime wages.
Cogburn Law Offices filed each case as a collective action, a type of class action.
“Though they’re unrelated employers, they’re just proof that the same issues happen in all types of jobs,” attorney Andrew Rempfer said.
Rempfer said he expects the claims in each case to exceed $2 million.
The lawyer said nine Nevadans and five Arizona residents have signed on as plaintiffs in the case against Circle K. That case was filed Feb. 27 on behalf of former store manager Charles Grahl and “others similarly situated.”
“He was called a store manager, but he disagrees with that labeling,” Rempfer said.
Rempfer said 10 Nevada residents have signed on as plaintiffs in the case against Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Inc., and MetLife Auto &Home Insurance Agency Inc.
That case was filed Feb. 14 on behalf of three people who worked as claims adjusters in Henderson and “others similarly situated.” According to the lawsuit, the defendants employ at least 100 adjusters nationwide.
Both cases pending in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas claim the workers were misclassified as exempt from overtime and that the companies violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay overtime when they worked more than 40 hours in a week.
MetLife spokeswoman Kim Friedman released the following statement Wednesday:
“Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company is aware of the action that has been filed by former claims adjusters in Nevada and we are currently reviewing the allegations. We believe we have been in compliance with the law at all times and will not provide further comment on ongoing litigation.”
Friedman said Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co., based in Rhode Island, is the company affected by the lawsuit. It is an affiliate of Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., a New York company. She said the other companies are improperly named in the complaint.
Arizona attorney Doryce Norwood, who represents Circle K, said she could not comment on the lawsuit because she has not had a chance to review it.
In their lawsuit, the former claims adjusters say they worked an average of eight to 12 hours of overtime a week and “were entitled to be compensated at a rate of one and one-half times” their regular hourly pay. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, they were paid “on a salary basis with no overtime.”
Grahl’s lawsuit said he worked as a store manager for Circle K from 1995 to 2001 and from 2005 until Feb. 17 of this year, and he was paid a weekly salary of about $800. Grahl, who worked in Las Vegas, claims he and other store managers were required to put in at least 16 hours of overtime a week.
“This was a corporate-wide policy, program and/or practice defendant applied at all its stores nationwide,” his complaint alleges.
Rempfer said those given the title of store manager did not have the authority to make personnel or independent decisions that would affect the business.
Grahl “spent the majority of his time performing menial tasks,” according to his lawsuit.
According to court papers, Circle K’s principal place of business is in Tempe, Ariz., and the company has more than 3,300 convenience stores throughout the United States.
Cogburn Law Offices seeks to represent all Circle K store managers in Nevada and Arizona who worked overtime without proper compensation during the three years before the lawsuit was filed.
Rempfer said several of the plaintiffs in the case continue to work for Circle K.
He said the company recently reached undisclosed settlements in two other cases involving the issue of overtime pay — one in California and one in Florida.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal .com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.