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Fast food chain ordered to pay millions in overtime

Though it is popular throughout much of the Midwest, the Steak 'n Shake fast food chain has had mixed success here in Wisconsin. Franchises in various locations near Milwaukee and around the state have opened in recent years, but later closed.

Regardless, the chain continues to enjoy success in much of the rest of the Midwest, though it recently suffered a significant legal setback when a jury decided against the company and in favor of the plaintiffs in a wage-and-hour lawsuit. A federal judge then ordered Steak 'n Shake to pay $7.7 million to a class of 286 managers who were not paid overtime.

According to a news report, the judge awarded the managers $6 million in damages, plus attorneys' fees. The decision more than doubled the award in a jury trial earlier this year which also found Steak 'n Shake liable for violations of federal wage-and-hour laws.

The problem in this case is not an uncommon one: the company improperly classified the managers as exempt from overtime pay. They were then required to work 50 hours per week or more, and often made to perform nonmanagerial tasks when the stores weren't fully staffed.

The managers in this lawsuit were in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, where several Steak 'n Shake outlets have temporarily closed. The locations will apparently be sold to franchisees, a news source reported.

The chain's legal woes are not resolved with the decision in this case, however. It faces a similar complaint from another 1,000 store managers.

If you and co-workers have been misclassified by your employer and then denied overtime pay, contact an attorney experienced in wage-and-hour litigation with Milwaukee's Alan C. Olson and Associates.

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