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Chipotle Wage-and-Hour Case Gets Initial Certification

thomsonreuters.com—Carlyn Kolker

A federal judge has conditionally certified a collective action alleging wage-and-hour violations by restaurant chain Chipotle, in a case that examined evolving standards for cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
 
U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter said the plaintiffs in the case, assistant managers at 1,400 Chipotle restaurants who said they are owed back pay and overtime, had met the standard for conditional certification.
 
As the standards for certifying a class action have risen after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, scrutiny of at the conditional certification stage has also increased.
 
Conditional certification allows plaintiffs’ lawyers to send out notices to potential plaintiffs, an important step under the FLSA, which requires plaintiffs to opt in to a collective action.

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Justin Swartz, a lawyer for the workers, noted that the standard for conditional certification was low for a reason.
 
”The standard here is to determine whether there are other people who are similarly situated, not to determine that everybody is similarly situated,” he said. “The point is to create a collective.”
 
Carter ruled to grant the plaintiffs’ motion. “I find that the plaintiffs have met their low standard of proof,” Carter said.
 
The case is Scott v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, No. 12cv08333, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
 
For Scott: Justin Swartz and Ossai Miazad of Outten & Golden; Joseph Fitapelli and Brian Schaffer and Frank Mazzaferro of Fitapelli & Schaffer; and Gregg Shavitz and Keith Stern of Shavitz Law Group.
 
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