Key Decisions

June 2013 – Non-Exempt Tasks Make An Assistant “Manager” Non-Exempt

(filed under: Key Decisions Archive | June 21, 2013)

Non-Exempt Tasks Make An Assistant “Manager” Non-Exempt

Heyen v. Safeway Inc.
(Cal. Ct. of App., 2d Dist.), filed May 23, 2013

Linda Heyen worked as an assistant manager for Safeway Inc. After Safeway terminated her employment, Heyen sued it to recover unpaid overtime pay. Heyen asserted that Safeway should have classified her as a “non-exempt” employee because she regularly spent more than 50 percent of her work hours doing “non-exempt” tasks, such as bagging groceries and stocking shelves.

An advisory jury and the trial court agreed with Heyen and awarded her overtime pay of $26,184.60, plus interest.

Safeway appealed. It asserted that the trial court failed to properly account for hours Heyen spent simultaneously performing exempt and non-exempt tasks — i.e., “actively… manag[ing] the store while also concurrently performing some checking and bagging of customer grocery purchases.” Safeway argued that, consistent with federal law, the trial court should have classified as “exempt” all hours during which Heyen simultaneously performed exempt and non-exempt tasks.

The Court of Appeal affirmed. It concluded that Safeway’s analysis and argument was inconsistent with California law. The trial court did not err in finding that Heyen was primarily engaged in non-exempt activities.