I was a route driver for Schwan's in March 2008 to June 2009. Last year we were paid commission and had 3 days off. Yes, the hours worked to complete the routes totaled about 45-50 hours per week, but having 3 days off made the long hours and hard work worth it.
In January 2009, the company changed the pay plan; they started paying us salary and added an extra day of work if we didn't hit our targeted sales number. The number corporate chose was one that only the top 10% of the route drivers in our region consistently hit. The extra day of work became a mandatory 10 hours or 12 hours if we didn't obtain 5 new customers on that day.
I was logging 60+ hours per week. I was exhausted and not recovering physically from one long day to the next, week to week. I started asking my manager questions, like was this legal for them to keep adding hours for no additional pay? I also mentioned that I went to the Labor and Industry website and read some things that explained what Schwan's was doing was wrong. (I list them out below) Needless to say, I got no where fast.
In fact, I became a victim of retaliation. I have never received one previous corrective action notice on any topic until I started asking questions about our long and required hours. The environment at work was becoming a hostile oneI was promptly written up for not leaving the depot by 9am. It wasn't a previous rule, nor was anyone else in our depot required to leave by 9am. I argued that this wasn't fair, but my complaint went no where. So, I called our HR department and talked to Theresa. I asked her several questions about the goings on at our depot.
To this day she nor HR have ever gotten back to me. What she did do was call my manager and tell him that I called, because when I got back to the depot that night after my route, he tried to write me up again! I argued with him, again, and I refused to sign the write up. I told him I called HR because I thought he was picking on me and making me work extra and unfair hours. He said that he knew I called HR. I told him this was retaliation.
I was suspended the following week for going home sick during one of my route days. I had not called in sick this entire year and was suspended pending an investigation for 4 days. Since I had no idea how long my suspension was going to be or if I was getting paid during that time, I thankfully found another job and quit.
I continued to educate myself on the State of Washington Labor and Industry website http://www.lni.wa.gov . I also called and spoke to someone to verify the information. I recently filed a formal complaint with L&I and they have accepted my claim. They have notified Schwan's to pay me 182 hours of unpaid overtime. My claim is based on the following 2 violations which I copied from the L&I website.
Exemption from minimum wage and overtime requirements for outside sales positions
ES.A.9.7 page 4
#8 Employees must be free to regulate own hours. Outside sales employees must be free to regulate their own hours and set their own work time. The time spent is totally at the employees discretion and an employer of outside salespeople has no control over the total number of hours worked by the employees.
#9 Employer must advise of outside sales status. Merely advising a person that he/she is an outside salesperson does not establish exempt status. The individual must be specifically advised that the outside sales position is an overtime-exempt job.
P.S. I will update this report if I win this claim!
Walla Walla, Washington