ALBANY — A 2016 class-action lawsuit filed over allegations of tips withheld and overtime wages not paid by a noted regional caterer/restaurateur is nearing a settlement worth up to $4 million.
U.S. District Judge Brenda Sannes gave preliminary approval Oct. 2 to the deal struck by attorneys for Mazzone Management Group and three people who feel they and many other employees were cheated from April 2010 to June 2019.
The settlement language indicates those who were catering employees would be entitled to about $40 per week worked during the period and those who were tipped employees about $12 per week worked.
The settlement notes that Mazzone Management still contends it did nothing wrong and believes it would have prevailed at trial, but that both sides agreed to a settlement to avoid the expense and uncertain outcome of a trial.
Former server and bartender Julio A. Olvera of Saratoga Springs was the original plaintiff, suing in April 2016 on behalf of himself and seeking class status for similarly affected employees. He later was joined by two other named plaintiffs, Karen Greene and Ralph Balsamo.
The class is defined as all tipped hourly employees (servers, bartenders, bussers, runners and other hourly service workers) as well as all hourly catering service workers employed between April 10, 2010, and June 20, 2019, by Mazzone Management Group, Ltd.; Mazzone Management, Inc.; 677 Prime LLC; Prime at Saratoga National LLC; Angelo Mazzone; Matthew Mazzone; Tala Bistro LLC; Aperitivo Bistro LLC; and Prime at Hilton Garden Inn LLC.
Under terms of the proposed settlement, Mazzone Management must provide a list of all such employees during the nine-year period in question, plus a tally of the hours they worked and their last known addresses. Eligible employees can consent to join the settlement class, or object to the settlement terms, or opt out of the settlement class by Jan. 22. A claims administrator will attempt to reach all of them and notify them of their options.
Under the deal, Mazzone Management would gradually pay $2.7 million into a settlement fund over the course of 11 months. It would make additional payments, up to the maximum total of $4 million, only if needed to meet the total sum of claims.
From that settlement fund, attorneys for the plaintiffs would receive up to $1.3 million for their costs and fees. The costs and fees incurred by the claims administrator also would be deducted from the $4 million total, as would a lump sum of up to $75,000 that would be divided among Olvara, Greene and Balsamo as a service fee in recognition of their role in the long-running case.