This page provides up-to-date information and links to important documents regarding the lawsuit filed against Natural Grocers for failure to pay overtime compensation to Assistant Store Managers who work at more than 150 stores located in 19 states. The lawsuit alleges that Assistant Store Managers routinely work more than 40 hours a week in order to perform their job duties but are improperly denied overtime compensation, even though they performed the same job duties as their hourly-paid colleagues. The lawsuit asserts claims under federal and Colorado law. A copy of the legal paperwork describing the claims can be found here and media coverage can be found here.
The lawsuit alleges that Assistant Store Managers spend the majority of their time helping customers, working the cash register, moving products, stocking shelves, setting and resetting displays, counting inventory, cleaning the store, and otherwise standing in as cashiers, stockers, or other hourly workers. It alleges that Natural Grocers has a policy, pattern, and/or practice of misclassifying Assistant Store Managers as exempt from overtime. It seeks to recover all unpaid overtime owed to Assistant Store Managers who work or have worked for Natural Grocers during the last several years.
On November 6, 2020, the judge overseeing the case granted Plaintiff’s request to conditionally certify his federal claim and, in response to receiving notice of the lawsuit, approximately 150 current and former Assistant Store Managers joined (or “opted-in” to) the case.
The parties recently completed “discovery,” a process in which both sides exchange documents and information relating to their respective claims and defenses. More than 20 individuals (called “opt-ins”) were selected to participate in the process, which included sitting for a deposition (a question and answer session with Natural Grocers’ attorneys). In December, 2022, the parties filed a number of motions with the judge asking him rule on several substantive issues, including whether Assistant Store Managers are entitled to receive overtime compensation during the 4-5 week period they are required to complete the company’s mandatory training program in Golden, Colorado. We expect to receive the judge’s rulings in the coming weeks.
We have also commenced more than three dozen arbitrations on behalf of Assistant Store Managers who allege that they, too, were improperly denied overtime compensation by Natural Grocers. These arbitrations are being administered by the American Arbitration Association. A hearing (or trial) in the first of the arbitrations is scheduled for November 2023.
We continue to fight hard to pursue all claims for unpaid overtime by Natural Grocers’ Assistant Store Managers in order to hold the company, including its owners, responsible for its actions.