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US Court of Appeals overturns lower court in Jimmy John's case

In an interesting development to a Jimmy John's wage and hour lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturned a lower court's decision to block a number of lawsuits going forward against Jimmy John's for inaccurately classifying a number of assistant store managers incorrectly, leading to them being exempt from state and federal wage and hour laws.

The assistant store managers filed a Fair Labor Standards Act collective against Jimmy John's and the respective franchises related to their cases, and with the new ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, these lawsuits can now proceed.

This case is interesting for two reasons. The first is that it shows just how realistic it is for a company to incorrectly classify their employees. Misclassifying an employee seems like it should be impossible, and yet it happens all the time. With the wrong status, an employee could miss out on pay and benefits that he or she deserves.

The other factor here is that franchise law has become a hot topic in the world of employment law. Many fast food restaurants have been involved in high-profile lawsuits recently as employees were pushing for the franchise to be held liable as a joint employer. Cases like this are extremely important and help mold the law going forward regarding franchises, wages, and appropriate working time. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

Source: Bloomberg Big Law Business, "Jimmy John's Can't Pause Wage Lawsuits Against Franchisees," Bloomberg Law, Dec. 18, 2017

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