Assistant bank managers came up short in their recent efforts to cash in on claimed lost overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In April, a Pennsylvania jury determined that Citizens Financial Assistant Managers are not entitled to be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek because they are supervisors (Bell v. Citizens Financial Group Inc. et al., U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:10-cv-00320). This decision represented an important victory for banking institutions around the country overwhelmed with similar lawsuits in the past several years. (See Osborne v. Nicholas Fin., Inc., Middle District of Tennessee, No. 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39004; Ross v. RBS Citizens, N.A., 667 F.3d 900 (7th Cir. 2012)). The Citizens Financial jury verdict, however, does not put this issue to rest.
In the past decade, class action lawsuits alleging wage and hour violations have exploded. According to CNNMONEY.com, lawsuits involving wage and hour claims have increased more than 400 percent in the past 11 years, and assistant managers in all industries continue to obtain rulings allowing them to bring class action lawsuits for overtime compensation.
Although the banking industry has remained relatively unscathed to date, this success has resulted largely from procedural victories. For example, in February, JPMorgan Chase successfully defeated an overtime lawsuit filed by one of its assistant branch managers on grounds that the assistant manager had signed an arbitration agreement at the time of her employment. (Ryan v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24628.) Just last month, both PNC and Citizens Financial scored victories when the class certifications of the assistant branch managers were overturned. Although to date, assistant branch managers have not succeeded in getting judgments or verdicts in overtime cases, they have been successful in obtaining multimillion-dollar settlements from some financial institutions in overtime cases where the court certified a class.
Overtime compensation cases are highly fact-sensitive and dependent on the duties actually performed by assistant branch managers. All financial institutions should review their wage classification policies and practices regularly to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Failure to do so could result in the piggy bank breaking.