Chevalier v. General Nutrition Centers (GNC) was a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of GNC employees who argued that they should be paid time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40, rather than merely their regular rate plus half. According to the plaintiffs, the company used unfair methods to calculate the employee’s regular rate in violation of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA).
The case addresses two main issues. First, the plaintiffs believed that the trial court should have calculated the employees’ regular rate by diving their weekly salary by 40 hours, rather than by the total hours they actually worked. However, the section of the PMWA that applies to this case authorizes the secretary of the Department of Labor and Industry to declare which regulations could define the term.
Second, the plaintiffs argued that the proper overtime pay should be time-and-a-half, according to Pennsylvania law. The court decided that there is no such thing as half-time overtime, and the PMWA requires employers to pay no less than 1-½ times the employee’s regular pay rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a given workweek.
The attorney representing GNC told the court that the method GNC used to calculate overtime was fair and that it met the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the PMWA. He also discussed the fact that the Department of Labor and Industry did not offer an opinion about whether the practice was appropriate. He argued that the Department of Labor and Industry adopted language from the FLSA, which demonstrated their intent to calculate employees’ overtime pay based on FLSA standards.
Justice Christine Donohoe questioned that assertion due to the absence of any clear language from state regulators. She went on the say that it is not the Court’s position to try to understand the intent of an agency. Rather, the purpose of the Court is to interpret the statute.