Staples New Jersey Assistant Managers win $2.5 million in overtime lawsuit. Is Connecticut next?

A jury in United States District Court for the District of New Jersey returned a verdict against Staples on February 20, 2009 and in favor of over 300 Assistant Store Managers who had sued for unpaid overtime compensation.  The suit, entitled Ronald Stillman v. Staples, Inc., was initially brought in 2007 and claimed that Mr. Stillman and all other Store Managers at Staples stores in New Jersey had been illegally classified as exempt from overtime. The case went to trial in February and a jury returned a verdict in the amount of $2.5 million.  The class was successfully represented by the Locks Law Firm of Cherry Hill New Jersey as well as Berger & Gottlieb of New York, NY. 

Cases like this are becoming more commonplace.  I wrote about a $35 million verdict against Family Dollar and in favor of their Store Managers in a previous blog. 

While these cases are federal in nature, they affect Connecticut workers because the federal FLSA applies here in Connecticut.  Of course, we also have our own overtime law in Connecticut.  The FLSA, however, has a provision which allows collective actions (like a class action but easier to bring). 

The theme of these cases is the same.  Retail companies are consistently classifying their Store Managers and Assistant Store Managers as exempt Executives, even though they do not qualify for this status because they are not given enough true Executive authority to qualify for this status.  Many retail managers spend most of their time unpacking deliveries and stocking shelves.  What little supervision they perform is done under the close and watchful eye of their District Managers who micromanage everything they do. 

Retail employers should be getting the message. You can’t call someone a manager if they are nothing more the glorified stock clerks and/or sales associates.  I am sure there will be more of these cases to come.

32 thoughts on “Staples New Jersey Assistant Managers win $2.5 million in overtime lawsuit. Is Connecticut next?

  1. Does anyome know if the case has ultimately been settled or if Staples appealed it? I haven’t found much information online amd received a letter from Lock’s Law Firm earlier this year but haven’t heard anything since then

  2. IF anyone hears anything please post here. the staples attorneys meetings today and tommrrow with our lawyers they are in what they call medation.meaning they are trying to work out a deal.But knowing this company they will try to hold out as long as they can.They are a bunch of losers running this company.

  3. That’s the first I hear of mediation. The only information I have received has been by emailing the lawyers and googleing the case. What ever came of mediation?

    • hey chris i have been following the case through the case filings.There is a service called pacer that you can acess the court records for the case.It is not free you have to first register and the it charges .8cents per page.They have up to sept 9th to complete the medation.I spoke with lawyers other day they are still negotating.They said we mit hear something in a few weeks.If you have any questions or information please feel free post here.

  4. Thanks for the info. Elminio. I was trying to figure out where the case stands and couldn’t find anything. I appreciate that you have done your research and are keeping us up to date on the details.

  5. hey guys just yesterday staples filed papers trying to decertify the class action.This company is trying everything not to pay workers what they owe them.What ashame.I nstead of admitting that they are wrong they continue to pay lawyers to go to court instead of paying workers.This is because they want to continue to cheat workers out of their pay.Ihave to pay they will also have to change their practices.In calaforina they payed and had to change practices.The managers in califorina now have to punch in and out.Why does our court system allow companys to take advantage of workers and drag these flsa cases on for years.This is what is wrong in our country the big companys get bailed out and the workers get laid off.enough already some one do something for workers.

  6. The filing of the desertification suit is more than likely a tactic to push for a lower cost settlement. With the economy in the crapper, they hope most of us opt for something now over maybe nothing a couple of years from now. The US court system is geared towards those with the most cash or the most staying power. As long as the law firm representing the class action can afford it, there isn’t much to lose. If they win this tactic, they will try another.

  7. Crabtree and Evelyn is being sued in a class action case out of New York on this very same issue. HOWEVER, the parties have settled, court not yet approved, on a figure of $270,000 which is to cover legal fees and payments to well over 150 store managers, each based upon months of service and not on actual overtime worked! Doesn’t that seem odd> I, for one, worked a great deal of overtime over the 24 months I was employed, usually 10 hours a week. Did not mind at the time, loved the position. However, why should a manager who worked no overtime receive a portion based upon length of employment? Seems a shady deal to me, looks like a check for not much more than $100.00 all things considered for at least $10,000 worth of overtime.

  8. Hopefully if they are granted the new trial, that jury also finds them liable and this time for more money. All this while in the mean time last year Ron Sargeant took a 30 million dollar bonus… if the government wants to deal with corporate greed, this is a company they should look at. I also read that Michael Miles and other high ranking executives are selling off high volumes of shares… insider trading? Just think… Ron Sargeant could settle this case him self for less than 10% of his bonus. The reason he does not want to is because they know that their free labor sources (managers) would then be lost nation wide as this is a federal case effecting all states but California. They are going to fight this tooth and nail, while cutting back on current employee payroll to save for the fall out that they know is inevitable.

  9. staples has also taken and appeal.they are trying to get the jury verdict over turned.They are just draging this case on.The lawyers must be friends with the rest of cheats.someone needs to go to jail.This would send a message to employers and their lawyer friends that they cant keep cheating workers out of their wages.these guys are selling stocks by the thousands and earning millions of dollars and still dont want to pay workers no wonder unemployment is almost ten percent.

  10. I just read somewhere that “Hundreds of plaintiffs who won the better part of $5 million from Staples Inc. after accusing the office products retailer of failing to pay them the federally mandated premium rate for overtime hours have asked an appeals court to review the trial court’s award of fees and costs.” It had to do with taking issue with the amount of the award. Anyone with more insight?

  11. Hey, for those who have been violated by Staples, i also have a wrongful termination suit against them for firing me for joining this lawsuit among other things.

  12. Not sure if everyone knows, but the judge is tired of Staples mess and had given them a chioce; either mediate the case and come up with a settlement or the judge will render a judgement against them. I cant wait they oew me $23,889 in overtime!

  13. I know this went to a second mediation the beginning of December but nothing has been said as to the status of the mediation.

  14. anyone hear when exactly we are getting this check? I got a letter a couple months stating about July, but havent received any follow-up.

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