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Ruby Tuesday Settles $3 Million Overtime Lawsuit

NEW YORK — More than 4,000 tipped employees at Ruby Tuesday restaurants will share in the $3 million settlement offered in their collective action wage and overtime lawsuit with the company, pending final court approval. The servers, bussers, and bartenders claimed the restaurant chain prohibited them from logging all of their work hours into the timekeeping system. They claim this company-wide timekeeping policy violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York and Florida state labor laws. The settlement offer only covers the FLSA claim.

The Claim

The tipped employees allege that overtime was discouraged through company-wide policies which led to mandatory “off the clock” work. According to the lawsuit, employees were required to complete assigned duty checklists during their shift. However, the company’s policies against overtime, and its strict scheduling system, required the tipped employees to either perform tasks prior to clocking-in or to clock-out at the end of their shift and then complete their assigned checklist “off the clock.” In addition to the checklists, employees were allegedly not allowed to clock-in until the first customer arrived, or until after the pre-shift meeting. They further claim, if they happened to work and record more than 40 hours a week, their recorded time would be “shaved” to make it appear that they did not work more than 40 hours.

The Claim’s Path

The two named plaintiffs, Michael Guttentag and Steven Reeves, filed their claim in New York federal court in April 2012 on behalf of tipped employees in the more than 700 Ruby Tuesday nationwide locations. The lawsuit received conditional certification in June 2013 after the court found the plaintiffs provided sufficient evidence of a company-wide anti-overtime policy. Conditional certification allowed potential class members to begin opting in to the collective action. The plaintiffs are now asking the court to approve the settlement, in part due to concerns over maintaining their collective action certification if the lawsuit continues to trial. This is of particular concern after the recent decertification of the collective action brought against Darden Restaurants Inc., where the application of the policies, the class members’ job titles, and the various class member claims were seen as too varied for the collective action to be efficient.

Settlement Procedure

Reaching a settlement during settlement conferences is not the end of the settlement process. One or both of the parties must submit and request court approval of the settlement. The court then sets an initial fairness hearing for the settlement offer, in this case scheduled for September 30. For this offer, the court will determine whether the $1.7 million of the $3 million going to the class members, or about 90 percent of the amount the class members estimate they are owed, based on an average time of work performed “off the clock,” is fair to both sides. Once approved, class members will have an opportunity to evaluate the offer prior to the scheduled final hearing.

If you received notice of an overtime class action, notice of a settlement offer, or believe you may have an overtime claim, our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers will discuss your situation at no cost. Contact us today at (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and we will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. You will pay no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.

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