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Vallarta Food Settles Overtime Claim

LOS ANGELES — A grocery chain, Vallarta Food Enterprises Inc., in California received final approval of its close to $1.5 million settlement offer in a wage and overtime pay class action lawsuit. Nearly 15,000 employees claimed they were required to work off the clock at the more than 40 stores across the state in violation of state wage laws. The settlement comes a little over two years after the initial filing of the proposed class action.

The Class Action and Agreement

In August 2012, Gabriela Garcia and Jose Chavez each filed separate claims, which were later consolidated into this class action, against Vallarta. The claims alleged the company required off the clock work, denied state required meal and rest breaks, and failed to pay them for all of the hours they worked, which resulted in lost wages, including overtime. After nearly two years, the parties reached a tentative agreement in June. The agreement was for a $1.54 million settlement which would resolve consolidated class action.

Garcia and Chavez initially believed around 13,000 employees would opt in to the class action. Based on this estimate, the settlement contains a provision for the disbursement of the awards. If the expected 13,000 opt-in to the class action, a minimum of 55% of the settlement fund will be disbursed. Prior to the court’s final approval nearly 15,000 had opted in. In addition to disbursement provisions, the settlement included a request for attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs’ counsel had initially requested $500,000 in fees, but increased that amount at the final approval hearing to $515,000. The court rejected the increase when it considered the fact that the class members would likely be sharing in only about $481,000 of the total settlement amount. The judge felt that the initial proposed amount was sufficient to recognize the work the attorneys performed.


During the final approval hearing, the judge inquired as to the low claim rate of the class members. Claim rates measure the number of class members who have completed claims forms before the deadline. Low claim rates can indicate unfair or unreasonable settlements. In this case, the plaintiffs’ attorney noted that the low figure was due in part to fear of employer retaliation if they made claims. Even though state and federal laws prohibit retaliation for making legitimate claims when employers violate employment laws and the assurances from the court and the employer, the potential class members were still hesitant.

If you have made a complaint about off the clock work or denied overtime and your employer has taken adverse actions against you, you may have a claim for both overtime and retaliation. There are strict time limitations for filing so it is important that you call our experienced law firm today! Our knowledgeable team of overtime pay lawyers can evaluate your situation and discuss your options at (855) 754-2795 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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