The restaurant host is now the "Guest Experience Leader." The front desk clerk is now the "Director of First Impressions." The coffee cart attendant is now the "Coffee Cart Manager." Across the country, corporations are giving workers in low-wage jobs fancy-sounding titles. It's part of a scheme to evade the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and deny these workers overtime pay. And it's working. According to a
Unionize. Unionize. Unionize !!! Our political system is so compromised by corporations, banking institutions, billionaires , etc. that no meaningful protections are likely to be both enacted into law and enforced. Job actions , work stoppages , strikes work.
It's sad that we need people like Judd to report on this when major media outlets should be making a bigger deal about the drain on the economy that is employer wage theft. Instead, we get endless stories and hand-wringing about shoplifting. #priorities
Let me guess: The companies that use job titles to avoid paying overtime are also opposed to employee unionization.
It’s clearly necessary to greatly increase the penalties for wage theft, although I don’t expect a bought and paid for congress to do this anytime soon. I think it’s up to labor attorneys to begin suing for much greater amounts (law allowing).
In 2005 when the $23660 increased exempt salary requirement was put in place and a few other legislative reforms tried to crack down on this problem I was a new manager at RadioShack. They paid store managers less than that and expected 50+ hour weeks. The commissioned sales people working for you would make a higher hourly wage because of the extra hours. RadioShack's response is why I feel little remorse for their subsequent demise as a going concern. They told their managers that of course if your salary was under the threshold, they'd pay the new minimum, but they treated it as an advance on your future annual retention raises, not a new floor for salary. This meant any RadioShack manager with less than 3 years of tenure would get no raises until their salary exceeded the new minimum. Suffice to say after dealing with multiple overnight break-ins at the store that required me to sit in the store for hours in the dead of night waiting for Tandy security to have the glass contractor come by and board up the broken windows and then still having to work the next day and open the store on little sleep, I decided that wasn't going to work for me and my new growing family.
Thanks for detailing the companies at the end of this article that do this purposely. I will do everything I can to avoid patronizing their establishments. Why is it always the richest people trying to nickel and dime the poor people or the middle class? Most of us just want to be comfortable. Being rich would be great, but I just strive to be comfortable and that's what most people want. To see how far a corporation is willing to go to screw someone out of 3k in overtime pay is astonishing to me. I own a small business and I try and pay my employees as much as I possibly can and give them bonuses every chance I get. I want to spread the wealth, not horde it all for myself.
Great exposé as usual, Judd.
Then they complain about not being able to find people to work for them. All these fast food companies should be off the map anyway for their part in rainforest destruction and feeding the world unhealthy processed food. No surprise they aren't interested in supporting their work force as they have no real interest in their customers
"The restaurant host is now the "Guest Experience Leader." The front desk clerk is now the "Director of First Impressions."" This is straight out of English Satirical Novels...glad that was part of my undergraduate education as an English major. Most people are aware of the brilliance and dark humor of 1984--I recommend...that 1984 and others be taught in our high schools. Thank you, Judd, for all of this research and elucidation! I've been shopping in Dollar Stores a great deal since Covid 19 became part of our lives. When people panicked and stores ran our of toilet paper, the Dollar Stores were a reliable source. I got in the habit of thanking all their clerks for being there--now I know that they deserve so much more than thanks. May this piece and all of your information reach the wide world. This is our latest rendition of SLAVERY!
Your piece states, “Further, five states (Alaska, Connecticut, California, New York, and Maine) have established a different, higher threshold to exempt employees from overtime pay. In these states, there is no jump in managerial titles at the FLSA threshold. This suggests that the increase is driven by corporations seeking to game the system.” It would be interesting to see the state by state comparison and also the list of companies at the other end of the scale to compare with the bottom feeders.
Excellent reporting on the continuing grift of corporate America. You frame it so well: even if these companies are caught and fined the maximum allowed by law it doesn't even dent their purses. These thieves should get down on their knees every night and give thanks to Ronald Reagan for gutting the power of unions.
This doesn’t just occur in big corporations. I worked for a privately owned packinghouse & the “handyman” who was responsible for minor repairs & grounds maintenance was “promoted” to salary with a fancy title to avoid paying overtime. The boss thought he didn’t work fast enough.
And then business leaders wonder why workers want unions. They bring it on themselves with these sly schemes.
More hypocrisy from the companies who pay their workers less than minimum wages but ramp up the titles - if you can even call them that. Just another bluff from corporate America. As the writer below says "UNIONIZE"
The names of those companies avoiding overtime payments is a great help.
I would say the biggest effect is the change in the nature of work since 1938 when the definition was made. Today a very high percentage of workers have white collars rather than blue collars as compared to then. However that white collar work, which might pass the third test can frequently be relatively low paid. For instance I know that college graduates are getting jobs as white collar workers and not being paid overtime despite otherwise meeting the criteria.