The Fashion Law Exclusive - Michael Kors is in some legal trouble as of late. The New York based design house, which made billions when it went public in December 2011, has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit. Plaintiff Pamela Thomas-Byass, a former Michael Kors store manager, filed suit late last week in California's Central District court, claiming that she was denied overtime pay and meal breaks during the two years she worked for Michael Kors in its location within in a Macy's department store in San Bernadino, California. And that's not all. She claims the company "intentionally and knowingly" failed to pay other other similarly situated employees for overtime hours and denied them meal breaks, as well, and that the company knew exactly what it was doing. According to Thomas-Byass's compliant: "To successfully compete against other apparel companies, Michael Kors substantially reduced its labor costs by placing the labor burden on a smaller number of employees."
While Thomas-Byass claims she was, in fact, regarded as a "manager" within the company, she says the title was merely for show, as she (and other store managers) lacked the authority to perform the vast majority of managerial tasks. In her complaint, Thomas-Byass says she and other "managers" were responsible for a handful of non-supervisory tasks, such as "greeting and assisting customers, setting up sales racks and displays, merchandizing, cleaning, and taking inventory." The so-called managers were not given the authority to "hire, fire, or promote employees, determine their pay rates or benefits or give raises" - duties typically delegated to managers.
As such, Thomas-Byass claims Michael Kors "uniformly, unlawfully, unfairly and/or deceptively classified every Shop Manager as exempt from overtime and other related benefits" in violation of the California Business and Professional code, which mandates that employees be compensated for overtime hours, be provided with accurate itemized statements in connection with the hours that they work and be paid wages when they are due, among other things.
In addition to a jury trial, Thomas-Byass wants the lower court judge to allow other similarly situated Michael Kors employees (think: store "managers") to join the lawsuit and for Michael Kors to pay an array of damages (which according to the complaint, is in the ballpark of $5 million dollars). More to come …