When is a Manager not a Manager?

When they don’t have management as their primary duty – thats when.  In yet another good case for employee rights in Connecticut, the District of Connecticut ruled Friday that SNET’s Level One managers may have a trial on whether or not they were correctly classified as managers (“executives” really) under the Connecticut Minimum Wage Act.  The best quote of the case came on page 12:

“The term ‘management is not self-defining.  Titles are cheaply had, and little weight, if any, can be given to the fact that SNET labels their employees “managers.”  … Further, the fact that Level Ones take advantage of this title in constructing their resumes is both unsurprising and unhelpful.” 

SNET labeled these employees managers, and classified them as exempt Executives under the CMWA.  They are challenging this designation and seeking unpaid overtime compensation.  SNET’s lawyers filed a motion for summary judgment, but Judge Hall denied it.  She concluded that they there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether they performed management duties as intended by the Act.  She also ruled that even if they performed some management duties, that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether or not management was their primary duty.

As to whether or not they performed management duties at all, Judge Hall examined SNET’s claim that they perfomed five specific types of duties.  In each case, she rejected SNET’s claim.  “In light of the little control Level Ones exercise over the nature of the various duties described in this section, the record supports a finding that Level Ones do not engage in “management duties.”

Judge Hall then turned her attention to SNET’s argument that Level Ones have management as their primary duty.  “Even if one or more of the aforementioned duties were to constitute “management,” partial summary judgment would be inappropriate in this case.  … There is undisputed evidence 0n the record that Level Ones exercise very little discretion in their position, are closely monitored by their superiors, and earn less money than their “subordinate” Techs. … In light of this evidence, summary judgment is clearly inappropriate.”

Ms. Perkins and the plaintiffs are aptly represented by Sanford, Wittles & Heisler, from New York.  Congratulations and thanks for expanding workers’ rights in Connecticut!