It’s not every day that a California employment lawyer comes across an overtime lawsuit that involves a family business. A New York City-based mom-and-pop store is finding itself embroiled in an overtime lawsuit filed by the son of the couple that runs the store.
The lawsuit claims 80 hours of overtime, saying that that the son had worked that many hours without being paid overtime wages. The lawsuit is threatening to tear the family apart. The parents insist that the lawsuit is being filed in retaliation because they fired their son after he began a business that competed with their business. According to the parents, the son bought his own ice cream truck, and tried to directly compete with the mom-and-pop business. The parents then fired their son.
He has now filed a lawsuit claiming overtime wages. The son claims that he was fired for complaining about the long hours without any overtime pay.
This lawsuit is likely to draw some snickers, but it does raise interesting questions about whether family-run establishments like mom-and-pop stores do owe their employees overtime or even, for that matter, a minimum wage. It may make sense that you do not take wages from your own company when it is your own business. However, if you have employed a spouse, your children, and other relatives in the business, then it may be reasonable for them to expect that they may be paid for their work.
The mother and father in this particular case have claimed that their son occupied an executive position in the company, and therefore, he was exempt from any overtime payments. However, considering that the son was being paid a wage of $10 per hour at the store, it remains to be seen whether their argument that he was an executive will hold much weight in court.