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Boston Market Forks Over $3M To End Worker Pay Suit

Law360 - Ben James

Boston Market Corp. stuck a fork in a class and collective action Tuesday that had accused the company of misclassifying assistant managers as exempt from overtime pay, winning final approval of a $3 million settlement deal from a Connecticut federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall said the deal was fair and reasonable, and finalized the certification of two state law classes and a Fair Labor Standards Act collective group.

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“The court specifically finds that the settlement is rationally related to the strength of the claims in this case given the risk, expense, complexity and duration of further litigation,” said the final approval order.

The plaintiffs, who brought claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as Connecticut and New York law, said that Boston Market didn't pay its assistant general managers, hospitality managers and culinary managers any overtime when they worked over 40 hours per week, even though they spent most of their time on nonmanagerial duties.

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No class members objected to the settlement, and only two people opted out, the memorandum said, adding that the restaurant industry “is facing particularly serious economic challenges.”

Class counsel believed the deal to be in the best interest of the class members in light of the risks and delays that could ensue from further litigation, according to the brief. Information provided by Boston Market about its financial status as a retail food chain in light of the economic downturn also spurred the resolution, the brief noted.

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Both sides were present at a formal mediation session in September 2010, but that session didn't yield a deal. In September 2011 they attended a second mediation session, and though they again failed to agree on a deal at the mediation, they kept negotiating and agreed to the key terms of the settlement later that month, the brief said.

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The case is Alli v. Boston Market Corp., case number 3:10-cv-00004, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.