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A Tennessee federal court lawsuit claims that Ingles Markets Inc.’s wage and overtime pay practices are in violation of federal labor laws. The associates who brought the suit, led by named plaintiff Nathan D. Gilliard, a store co-manager from Madisonville, Tenn., are represented by Outten & Golden LLP in New York and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP in Nashville.
Gilliard v. Ingles Markets Inc., filed April 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, alleges that Asheville, N.C.-based Ingles willfully fails to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) through a “policy to deprive its salaried non-exempt employees” of earned overtime wages as legally required. The grocer operates more than 200 stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
“We hope this litigation leads the supermarket industry to conform with federal labor laws,” said Juno Turner of Outten & Golden. “Mr. Gilliard and the company’s other hard-working employees are entitled by law to take home the pay they have earned."
Added Elizabeth Alexander of Lieff Cabraser: “Ingles has systematically denied its workers the overtime wages they are due under the law. This lawsuit seeks to have Ingles give those workers their fair compensation.”
“I worked long hours at the request of Ingles in order to serve my customers and help make Ingles Markets successful,” noted Gilliard. “Ingles didn’t pay me what it was required to pay me for overtime. We just want to be paid a fair wage for all the hours we’ve worked.”
The law firms will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to recover unpaid wages, liquidated damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, and court costs for eligible Ingles workers who elect to opt in to the collective action.
When contacted for comment from Progressive Grocer, Ingles CFO Ron Freeman replied by e-mail: "While we respect the rights of individual to pursue monetary gain through civil lawsuits, we flatly reject Mr. Gilliard's claims. Ingles strives to ensure that every one of our employees, including Mr. Gilliard, is fairly compensated for the work that they perform and that its pay practices comply with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. Ingles stands by the propriety of its actions and will vigorously defend itself against these allegations."