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The Wall Street Journal, Aldi Faces Suit From Store Managers Seeking Overtime

full article from wsj.com

By Timothy W. Martin
January 21, 2010

Aldi Inc. is being sued by more than 200 current and former store managers in 32 states over unpaid overtime wages, in a lawsuit alleging the discount grocer violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The federal collective action lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court in Cleveland last August, alleges the store managers were wrongly classified as management, making them exempt from overtime pay. The lawsuit alleges store managers main duties were to stock shelves, operate the cash register, clean the store and perform customer service.

The cut-off date for former and current managers to opt-in to the lawsuit was Monday. Store managers routinely worked 50 to 60 hours a week, coming in as early as 4:30 a.m. and were sometimes the only employee in the store, said attorney Jason Bristol of Cohen Rosenthal & Kramer LLP, which represents plaintiff Howard McNelley, a former Aldi store manager in Brooklyn, Ohio, fired last June.

The store managers are seeking unpaid overtime wages, legal fees and other damages. Aldi Inc., based in Batavia, Ill., is the U.S. division of the German discount grocer. With more than 1,000 stores in the U.S., Aldi has seen sales grow as cash-strapped consumers trimmed their food budgets.

Aldi says 50 of its 1,056 current store managers have joined the lawsuit.

"As a matter of policy and practice, Aldi consistently adheres to all employee-related laws and regulations. We look forward to presenting the facts in court," according to an Aldi statement.

Write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com

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