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Urban Outfitters Hit With Wave Of OT Claims After Decert.

Law360—Vin Gurrieri

A Massachusetts Urban Outfitters Inc. department manager is the latest of at least eight individuals to bring separate suits against the company over claims that it shorts workers on overtime pay, after a New York federal judge decertified a collective action last month.

In the latest case, plaintiff Michelle Otero on Monday claimed Urban Outfitters violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying her as exempt from overtime and failing to properly pay her for hours she worked in excess of 40 per week.

Otero’s case is the latest in a line of cases that have been filed this month by individuals who had been part of a collective action that was decertified in September by U.S. District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf.

The judge had adopted a recommendation from U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein that the differences in duties, responsibilities and authority described by the managers who filed the suit and those who opted in were too vast to bring the claims under one collective action under the FLSA.

Like Otero, the plaintiffs in the collective action, which was initially filed in 2013, alleged that Urban Outfitters illegally misclassified them as exempt from overtime.

Justin M. Swartz of Outten & Golden LLP, who represents Otero and others who have sued Urban Outfitters individually, told Law360 on Oct. 12 after the first wave of individual lawsuits that his firm as well as co-counsel in the various cases “want to let employers know that a case doesn’t go away if [an action] is decertified.”

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers are not going to let rights go unprotected,” Swartz said. “If it means filing dozens, or hundreds, of lawsuits, then we’ll do it.”

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The plaintiffs in each of the individual cases are represented by Justin M. Swartz, Ossai Miazad, Michael J. Scimone of Outten & Golden LLP; Seth R. Lesser, Fran L. Rudich, Michael H. Reed and Christopher Timmel of Klafter Olsen & Lesser LLP; Marc S. Hepworth, Charles Gershbaum, David A. Roth and Rebecca S. Predovan of Hepworth Gershbaum & Roth PLLC; and Gregg I. Shavitz and Alan L. Quiles of Shavitz Law Group PA along with local counsel. 

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The cases are Otero v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 1:17-cv-11995, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; Garrett v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 1:17-cv-07826, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; Escobar v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 1:17-cv-02421, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado; Gianino v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 2:17-cv-05966, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York; Awasthi v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 9:17-cv-81139, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida; Estes v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 1:17-cv-23700, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida; Campbell v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 1:17-cv-11935, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts; and Checchia v. Urban Outfitters Inc., case number 3:17-cv-01104, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.