Target faces class action lawsuit for cheating employees out of pay

    a target store
    A Target store in Lino Lakes. Photo courtesy of Target.

    A class action lawsuit was filed against Target in federal court Tuesday for underpaying their employees.

    The suit, brought by Andrew Davis of New Haven, Conn., alleges that the Minneapolis-based retailer regularly makes some of its managers work unpaid overtime doing non-management work, in violation of the Federal Labor Standards Act.

    According to legal filings, “Executive Team Leaders” at Target spend more than half of their time doing tasks that hourly employees do, like checking out customers and stocking shelves, even though they’re classified as “executives” and are therefore not eligible for overtime pay.

    The lawsuit claims that Target schedules these “ETLs” to work nearly 50 hours or more each week, while sending hourly employees home early on occasion to cut costs.

    “Target uses cost-saving practices designed to minimize hourly payroll expenses. One practice is to send hourly associates home before the end of their shifts and to refrain from replacing associates when they fail to show up for work. Target then requires the ETLs to finish the hourly tasks of the hourly associates who had been scheduled but were sent home early or not replaced,” the lawsuit claims.

    What managerial work ETLs do is closely monitored by the “Store Team Lead,” who the lawsuit describes as “the real management authority of the store.”

    Davis, the lead plaintiff on the case, worked as a manager at a Target store in Connecticut for a little over two years, from 2016-2018. He claims he regularly worked more than 40 hours each week, spending the majority of his time doing tasks that hourly employees also do, like unloading trucks.

    The lawsuit, which is being handled by attorney Richard Hayber, seeks unpaid back wages at overtime rates for Executive Team Leads at all of Target’s nearly 2,000 stores across the country.

    “We have a long history of investing in our team and providing them with industry-leading wages and clear roles and responsibilities for their work at Target,” wrote Target Spokesperson Jenna Reck in an email. “We’re aware of the lawsuit and confident that our Executive Team Leaders are appropriately classified as exempt employees, given their management responsibilities.”

    Were you an Executive Team Lead at Target? Share your story by confidentially emailing the Reformer: [email protected].

    This story has been updated with the response from Target.

    Max Nesterak
    Max Nesterak is a reporter for the Reformer focusing on labor and housing. Most recently he was associate producer for MPR’s Morning Edition after a stint at National Public Radio. He also co-founded the behavioralscientist.org and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.