Former ABRA Employees File Class Action Suit Against Company

Two former employees of ABRA Auto Body & Glass have filed a class-action suit against the company alleging that it required customer service managers (CSMs) and customer service representatives (CSRs) to work overtime without pay and that it did so by misclassifying these employees as "managerial," which exempted them from overtime pay. The suit was filed on July 17, 2007, in the United States District Court in Minnesota.

The plaintiffs, Thomas Hale and Justin Schreckenstein, claim that as CSMs, they were required to carry a workload that could not be completed without working more than 40 hours per week and that 50 percent of their jobs were comprised of non-managerial duties. They allege that this occurs with CSRs as well. In addition, the plaintiffs claim that the company failed to pay overtime compensation to CSMs and CSRs in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and applicable state laws, according to the complaint.

Hale, a Georgia resident, was employed by ABRA as a CSM from around February 2005 through February 2006, and once again from July 2006 through November 2006. The complaint alleges that Hale consistently worked more than 50 hours per week. Schreckenstein, also a Georgia resident, claims he was employed by ABRA as a CSM from June 2004 up until July 2005, and again in October or November 2005, according to the complaint, and that he also regularly worked more than 50 hours per week without compensation for the hours in excess of 40.

The plaintiffs claim that ABRA CSMs and CSRs do not perform managerial duties, such as "significant judgement or independent decision-making," and that their main duties involve sales, estimates and customer service. However, the claim notes that "ABRA takes the position that these store managers are exempt from legal requirements to pay them overtime because they are 'managers' or 'representatives.'"

The complaint also alleges that ABRA classified employees this way in an effort to increase its profits.

"Plaintiffs allege that Defendant, in order to generate millions of dollars of net profits, has intentionally and improperly designated ABRA CSMs and CSRs, including Plaintiffs and members of the Class, as 'exempt' employees in order to avoid payment of overtime wages in violation of applicable federal, state and common laws," says the complaint.

The plaintiffs claim that they and others who qualify to participate in the class-action suit "are entitled to compensation for unpaid overtime together with pre-judgment interest and liquidated damages."

The complaint notes that CSMs and CSRs at ABRA, its subsidiaries and affiliates at any time within the three years prior to the filing of the complaint "through the date of the final disposition of this action (the 'Federal FLSA Period') or limitations periods as provided for in the applicable state wage and hourlaws and/or regulations (the 'State Periods') that exceed the federal FLSA Period" are eligible to participate in the class-action suit.

Joseph M. Sokolwski and Lindsay J. Zamzow of Fredrikson & Byron P.A. in Minneapolis, who are defending ABRA in the case, filed a request on August 20 for an extension to respond to the complaint. An extension was granted up to and including September 4 by Janie S. Mayeron, magistrate judge.

The plaintiffs are represented by Clayton D. Halunen of Halunen & Associates in Minneapolis.

At press time, ABRA spokesperson Victoria Reinart said the company was in the process of issuing a statement about the suit.

Halunen could not be reached for comment.

CLICK HERE for the full text of the complaint.

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