Ecolab Route Sales Managers Held to be Non-Exempt from Overtime and Meal Periods

On September 28, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in the case of Ross v. Ecolab Inc., held that Ecolab has violated California law by not paying overtime to the Route Sales Managers and Route Managers in its Institutional Division. The case, originally filed in December 2009 as Icard v. Ecolab, Inc., San Francisco County Superior Court case number CGC-09-495344. The case seeks unpaid overtime for Route Managers and/or Route Sales Managers who have worked in California, do not cross state lines in the performance of their duties, and have not received full and correct pay for all hours worked and have not received accurate paycheck stubs. Ecolab removed the case to the Northern District of California, where it has the case number 13-cv-5097-PJH.

In a 27-page decision, the Northern District of California held that Ecolab’s three California overtime exemptions (the outside salesperson exemption, the commissioned salesperson exemption, and the hazardous materials exemption) do not apply as a matter of law. The court further held that the case may continue as a class action.

The ruling constitutes a major victory for the California-based Route Managers and Route Sales Managers. Due to the fact that Ecolab’s overtime exemptions have been held not to apply, Ecolab must pay these individuals overtime, perhaps even so far back as December 2005. Ecolab may also be subject to various penalties sought by the plaintiffs in the Ross case, including but not limited to penalties for the willful failure to pay wages at termination or resignation and the failure to provide accurate paycheck stubs, as well as penalties for various California Labor Code provisions under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2005, Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.

Trial has not yet been set in this action. Strauss & Strauss provides updates about the case here. Please contact Strauss & Strauss with any questions.

The court’s decision is here.