A consolidated class of Moran Foods LLC employees urged a Connecticut federal judge on Monday to issue final approval for a $4.5 million settlement to end suits alleging they were stiffed on overtime wages by a policy designed to underpay them.
Plaintiff Robert Kiefer and the consolidated class of assistant store managers, who worked for Moran's nationwide Save-A-Lot grocery store chain, urged U.S. District Judge William G. Young to green light the deal and put to bed a hybrid class and collective action alleging that Save-A-Lot's method of calculating overtime pay violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“The proposed settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and should be approved in all respects,” the motion said. “By reaching a favorable settlement prior to the resolution of dispositive motions or trial, plaintiffs seek to avoid significant expense and delay, and instead ensure recovery for the class.”
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The grocery chain allegedly instituted a policy that failed to pay the workers time-and-a-half overtime premiums for the hours they work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Instead, Save-A-Lot allegedly paid them roughly half-time for those excess hours, according to court documents.
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The settlement noted that there are approximately 2,110 potential class members, and that the agreement would resolve three separate lawsuits, two of which were pending in state courts.
The proposed $4.5 million settlement fund includes a $1.5 million request for attorneys’ fees and costs as well as service awards, settlement administrator’s fees, and Moran Foods' share of payroll taxes, according to the agreement.
The class members, who won preliminary approval for the deal in March, will receive an average net settlement payment of approximately $1,816, according to the agreement.
According to the most recent complaint, Save-A-Lot has a history of denying the ASMs overtime pay. The suit claims that, for years, the ASMs were misclassified as exempt from overtime pay.
The company changed course and categorized the position as non-exempt following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation in 1998, and began paying them a form of overtime compensation, but that the reclassification only brought Save-A-Lot into partial compliance with the federal and state law.
The company "now pays ASMs only a fraction of the overtime wages they are due,” the complaint said.
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The plaintiffs are represented by Justin M. Swartz and Juno Turner of Outten & Golden LLP; Richard Eugene Hayber and Erick I. Diaz Vazquez of The Hayber Law Firm LLC; and Peter Winebrake of Winebrake & Santillo LLC.
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The case is Robert G. Kiefer et al., v. Moran Foods LLC et al., case number 3:12-cv-00756, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.