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LAS VEGAS — A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit alleging Circle K Stores failed to pay overtime wages to store managers can move forward as a national class-action suit.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II made the decision on Aug. 26. Las Vegas attorney Andrew Rempfer, who already represents 246 plaintiffs in the case, said the ruling means the number of plaintiffs could grow to the thousands.
According to the 2014 lawsuit, Circle K misclassified employees to avoid paying overtime wages. The plaintiffs — who worked in Arizona and Nevada Circle K convenience stores — allege they held store manager titles, but had no authority to make decisions regarding the personnel or operations of their stores, as CSNews Online previously reported.
The legal action argues that management titles were inappropriate because the majority of the employees' work hours were spent performing "menial tasks" such as unloading boxes.
The case initially was filed in February 2014 on behalf of former store manager Charles Grahl and "others similarly situated;" it was filed as a collective action, a type of class action. Grahl worked as a store manager for Circle K from 1995 to 2001 and from 2005 until February 2014, and was paid a weekly salary of about $800, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Grahl, who worked in Las Vegas, claims he and other store managers were required to put in at least 16 hours of overtime a week.
"This was a corporate-wide policy, program and/or practice defendant applied at all its stores nationwide," his complaint alleges.
Judge Boulware heard more than two hours of arguments on Aug. 26 before giving preliminary approval for the class certification. He said the class will include all current and former store managers who have worked for the company since Oct 31, 2011, according to the newspaper report.
Once potential plaintiffs are notified about the case, they will have 120 days to join. The judge said potential plaintiffs will be free to seek their own attorneys.
According to court papers, Circle K's principal place of business is in Tempe, Ariz., and the company has more than 3,300 convenience stores throughout the United States.