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JCPenny Denied Dismissal of Overtime Claim

NEW YORK  — JCPenney Co. Inc. was denied their request to dismiss a proposed wage and overtime collective action lawsuit in New York federal court recently. The proposed collective action alleges the company required its employees work off the clock without pay. According to the court’s decision, JCPenney’s offer to pay the named plaintiffs their alleged damages, thus removing them and their complaints from the lawsuit and ending the current case, was insufficient. Therefore JCPenney’s request was denied and the proposed collective action may continue.

The Court’s Decision

The company made its offer to the four named plaintiffs in May 2013, likely to avoid the lawsuit progressing in its efforts to gain collective action status, which would increase the retailer’s litigation costs and liability. However, after reviewing JCPenney’s offer and request for dismissal, the District Court judge did not believe JCPenney’s offer in its efforts to resolve the lawsuit would have actually covered all the remedies the four named plaintiffs could have been afforded. The offer apparently met the maximum amount recoverable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but it fell short in covering recoverable amounts under New York state labor law. Furthermore, the court determined that the fact that the court needed to make a ruling, or adjudicate, the maximum values of each plaintiff’s claim in the lawsuit indicated that there were still questions in controversy and the offer would not end the pending lawsuit.

Speculative Claims

While JCPenney’s request to dismiss the proposed collective action was denied, the court did dismiss one of the two overtime claims brought under the FLSA. In the case of the dismissed overtime claim, the court determined the part-time employees’ claims were too speculative to continue.Employees are not expected to have all or even the best evidence and information when they initially bring their claim to the court. The courts recognize that employers will have access to and control of the majority of the information related to employee time records, wage rates, and company policies. However, the courts do require employee claims to have specifics or at the very least estimates based on enough available evidence that the court would expect could support the claim. If the employee’s claim is too vague or is based on the plaintiff’s statement alone or has to make too many assumptions, the court will likely find it to be speculative and it will be dismissed.

Determining whether you have a claim against your employer or whether you have a potential class action in your case can be complicated and very detail specific. Our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers can evaluate and discuss your situation. Call today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.

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