Many Panda Express employees fall under the non-exempt category of employment and MUST be paid overtime wages according to the guidelines laid out in the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). The FLSA sets the overtime rate for non-exempt employees at time and one-half their standard rate of pay for any time worked over 40 hours in a single week.
The FLSA regulations do not apply to “administrative” or “professional” employees due to exemptions preventing specific categories of employees from receiving overtime pay.
Exemptions are not based entirely on one’s job title, however. Whether or not an employee should receive overtime pay is calculated by the hours worked, the rate of pay, the job duties, and even the job description.
It’s always a good idea to speak with an attorney with experience in overtime pay laws due to issues with additional state laws governing overtime pay. These laws sometimes overlap federal laws and further complicate or contradict the FLSA.
What is Panda Express?
Founded in 1983 by husband-wife duo Andrew and Peggy Cherng, Panda Express is a fast food restaurants chain serving American Chinese cuisine. With aproximately 2,000+ locations nationwide, it is the largest Asian segment restaurant chain in the US. Panda Express restaurants were traditionally located in shopping mall food courts, but the chain now operates units in a variety of environments and formats, including stand-alone restaurants, as well as universities, casinos, airports, military bases, amusement parks, and other venues. The chain offers a variety of Chinese-cuisine inspired dishes, and advertises that it does not add MSG to any of the items under any circumstances. Headquartered in Rosemead, CA, the company is widely recognized for its red themed trade dress and iconic panda sigil embossed with the slogan “Panda Express: Chinese Kitchen.” Panda Express has enjoyed marked success since its founding, boasting revenue of $3 billion and an employee workforce of nearly 40,000. As a mainstay in American Chinese fast casual cuisine, Panda Express is beloved by families and enterprising franchisees alike.
Can Panda Express Employees Earn Overtime Wages?
Numerous non-exempt Panda Express employees may be required to start before their shifts or even work after their shifts finish off the clock. It is not uncommon for employees to work double shifts as well. Because of this, if many Panda Express employees exceed 40 working hours in a single week, they should receive overtime pay.
Employers have been known to illegally misclassify positions to avoid paying overtime. For instance, Panda Express shift or location managers may have been labeled “managers” with the goal of marking them exempt from overtime pay. However, these employees are in fact non-exempt because of the nature of their job duties.
Often companies label employees as managers even though they do not fill vital roles for the business. The FLSA dictates that “managers” must have specific abilities, for instance, hiring or firing employees, making schedules, or completing other tasks that are essential to the running of the business. Typically these employees do not perform these duties and are instead only labeled as managers for employers to save money by avoiding paying overtime.
Another unlawful practice that the Panda Express may perform is having employees clock in before a shift or asking them to stay after a shift without compensating them. This practice of manipulating time cards to keep payroll costs down is a violation of the FLSA and can result in a lawsuit.
How Can a FLSA Lawyer Help You
An experienced lawyer can analyze your case and see if you are entitled to lost overtime wages from Panda Express by evaluating how state and federal laws apply to your situation.
Does Panda Express Have to Pay Overtime Wages to Employees?
For the most part, Panda Express must pay overtime to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week as long as they are not excluded by the FLSA. However, these exemptions become more complicated by some states that have additional laws governing them.
If you feel like you have been denied overtime wages, then it is in your best interest to consult an attorney with FLSA experience and knowledge of state overtime laws.
Are There Other Overtime Pay Lawsuits Involving Panda Express?
Here are a few examples from the many previous lawsuits that have been issued against other employers for failing to pay overtime wages:
- Justia lists at least 5 lawsuits FLSA related violations against Panda Express since 2009
- Most notably, according to Violation Tracker, Panda Express has paid almost $4 million in civil penalties since 2000 for FLSA related violations.
If you feel as though Panda Express or any another employer has denied you overtime wages, you could have a case. Please get in touch with the Lemberg Law legal team. Complete our form for a FREE case evaluation, or call 844-685-9200 NOW. Lemberg Law will evaluate your case as see if you are eligible to receive lost overtime wages as a non-exempt employee.