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Settlement OK'd in Price Chopper overtime class action suit

Settlement OK'd in Price Chopper overtime class action suit

$6.5 million to be split among hundreds of employees and their attorneys
Settlement OK'd in Price Chopper overtime class action suit
Price Chopper headquarters on Nott Street.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

A judge has approved a settlement in a long-running class action lawsuit filed by employees who didn’t receive overtime pay at Price Chopper and Market 32 supermarkets.

The supermarkets’ parent company, Schenectady-based Golub Corp., will pay $6.5 million to the plaintiffs and their attorneys.

The case was filed in July 2014 in federal court in Massachusetts by a North Adams woman who claimed that the company unlawfully classified her and other department managers as team leaders exempt from federal overtime protections. Four other people joined as named plaintiffs, and the class of similarly affected but unnamed Golub employees was expected to number at least in the hundreds.

The parties twice attempted to resolve the lawsuit through mediation. The first effort failed in May 2016 but the second succeeded in April 2017.

It took several months longer to finalize the settlement. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni signed the order Friday and it was issued Monday. 

Neither side would provide any details Tuesday.

“The parties were able to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of this matter,” said Kevin M. Kinne, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“The parties were able to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of this matter and Price Chopper denies any wrongdoing,” Golub Corp. spokeswoman Mona Golub said.

Some details are available in court paperwork, though:

  • The five named plaintiffs — Shelly J. Davine, James E. Williams, Jacob E. Ogden, Beth A. Farrar and Philip Cardinale — will get $10,000 each, a larger sum in recognition of their efforts on behalf of the class of affected Golub Corp. employees.
  • The final list of employees and ex-employees who make up the class consisted of 311 people who opted in and 1,144 putative class members.
  • At the deadline, 834 claim forms had been filed with the claims administrator.
  • The amount of the payment will vary widely depending whether the employee opted in or was just a putative class member; how many weeks they worked; and where they worked, because Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania each have different statutes of limitation and, in some cases, multiply  penalties.
  • The plaintiffs’ attorneys estimated that putative class members would receive approximately 42 percent of their unpaid overtime and opt-in plaintiffs approximately 80 percent of their unpaid overtime.
  • One class member objected to the settlement, one opted out and one tried to opt out but made a paperwork error; the claims administrator also received a handful of claims after the deadline, six of which were allowed because of circumstances deemed valid.
  • The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Outten & Golden LLP of New York City and Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook LLP of Pittsfield will get a third of the total award, $2.17 million; they said they performed over 6,000 hours of work which, at normal rates, would have billed at $2.36 million.
  • Fees for expenses of $75,000 for the plaintiff’s attorneys and $28,032 for the claims administrator also were approved.
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