That weary lady scrambling to finish the cigarette count before you get annoyed trying to pay for your sports drink? According to Marathon, Speedway and SuperAmerica she is also a bona fide executive.
The store clerk bustling between cleaning bathrooms, stocking shelves, and hiring hourly workers with no labor budget? Her name tag says “store manager.” And so according to Dollar General she is a bona fide, genuine executive.
But these "executives" do not enjoy earnings 400 times greater than the average workers in their companies, nor outrageous, costly perks like corporate jet service, exotic company paid vacations, huge expense accounts, security details, personal assistants, golden severance parachutes, or even the key to an executive washroom.
Rather bona fide executives like these get $455/week salaries, unlimited work hours, laborious job responsibilities, inflexible schedules – and exemption from Fair Labor Standard Act overtime pay requirements. More often than not working 60-to-70-hour weeks, these executives wind up earning less than minimum wage. So what gives?
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established a federal minimum wage for some employees, eliminated some forms of child labor, and required the payment of overtime wages equal to one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of a standard workweek (currently 40 hours). The Act has always exempted certain types of employees from the overtime wage requirement, including “bona fide executives.”
And while few would argue that Clarence Cazalot (Marathon CEO, $31.5 mil/year), Bernardo Hees (BK CEO, $6.5 mil/year), Richard W. Dreiling (Dollar General CEO, $7.6 mil/year), or any of the world’s other grossly compensated executives deserve overtime pay, does it follow that nor does an assistant manager on mop and fryer detail at the Burger King down the street?
According to the law it does. Definitions promulgated under the act fail to reflect the disparity between executive and non-executive pay. And companies like Burger King, Marathon, Speedway, SuperAmerica, Dollar General and others, invest lots of money to keep it that way -- preserving a highly lucrative absurdity.
On March 13, 2014, President Obama issued an order to the Secretary of Labor, directing revision of the regulations that exempt “bona fide executives” from the FLSA’s overtime wage requirements. Big law firms representing corporations that exploit workers under the exemption immediately characterized his action as an “attack,” without any knowledge as to what those revisions might actually entail. No doubt there is much at stake.
You can help to close this corporate loophole by contacting your senators and representatives and letting them know that you support efforts to dramatically narrow the FLSA's bona fide executive exemption.
And do not believe that Donna behind the counter is a genuine, bona fide executive until she is paid a heck of a lot more to do a heck of a lot less.
Learn more about workplace matters here.