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Law 360 post about Overtime

Wells Fargo $15M Wage-Hour Deal 'Overbroad,' Court Told


Share us on: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn By Alex Lawson 0 Comments Law360, New
York (April 01, 2014, 3:18 PM ET) -- A pair of lead plaintiffs in
multidistrict litigation lobbing wage and hour allegations against Wells
Fargo & Co. Inc. in Texas federal court objected Monday to a $15 million
settlement proposed last week, arguing that the "overbroad" deal will
ensnare unintended plaintiffs and claims.

 While last week's deal is meant to apply only to the Fair Labor Standards
Act claims asserted in the so-called Richardson and Chaplin cases,
plaintiffs in another MDL known as the Chan case said the deal would also
wipe out claims from its Washington state opt-in plaintiffs that go beyond
the FLSA.

"The release in the proposed settlement agreement cannot survive close
scrutiny because it is an overbroad, pervasive release that is grossly
inequitable as well as unfair," the plaintiffs said. "Chan plaintiffs object
to the ... provisions in the settlement agreement which extinguish claims
beyond FLSA claims for all the opt-in plaintiffs and, specifically, for
Washington opt-in plaintiffs."

Brent Chan and Dien Luu pointed out that language contained in the
settlement provides not only for the release of claims specifically
enumerated in the Richardson and Chaplin cases but also for claims arising
from "the same factual predicate, whether known or unknown," falling under
the FLSA or state wage and hour laws.

 In the view of the objecting plaintiffs, this language would vanquish
Washington state opt-in plaintiffs' claims for unlawful deductions of
third-party fees from their wages, as well as unpaid wages for meal and rest
periods.

 Chan and Luu also indicated that the court does not have adequate
information in its record to properly adjudicate the settlement and called
for a hearing to make their case.

"Further, insufficient information has been provided to the court for it to
assess either the value of the release to the settling plaintiffs or whether
the opt-ins have a full - or any - understanding of what they are releasing
in exchange for the settlement award," they said.

 The MDL is composed of six collective actions filed by home mortgage
consultants alleging that Wells Fargo and its predecessors failed to pay
them overtime along with other wage and hour infractions.

 Chan and Luu told the court that they took many steps in order to ensure
that any potential settlement would not lead to an overly broad release of
claims and were assured by lead counsel that the settlement talks were
focused squarely on the FLSA issues.

 But once the settlement was initially notified, Chan and Luu said that they
had come up against repeated obstacles in attempting to look at the language
of the agreement itself and were not able to do so until the documents had
been filed to the court near the end of the business day on March 25.

 Attorneys for the objecting plaintiffs, settling plaintiffs and Wells Fargo
did not immediately respond Tuesday to requests for comment on the
objection.

 The objecting plaintiffs are represented by Tana Lin, Mark A. Griffin and
T. David Copley of Keller Rohrback LLP and Timothy J. Pauley and Ryan J.
Pauley of the Pauley Law Group PLLC.

 The settling plaintiffs are represented by Paul Yetter and Reagan Simpson
of Yetter Coleman LLP, Rhonda Wills of the Wills Law Firm PLLC, Diana
Marshall of Marshall & Lewis LLP and John Padilla of Padilla Rodriguez & de
la Garza LLP.

 Wells Fargo is represented by Lindbergh Porter, David B. Jordan, April N.
Love and Mary D. Walsh of Littler Mendelson PC.

 The case is In re: Wells Fargo Wage and Hour Employment Practices
Litigation (No. III), case number 4:11-md-02266, in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of Texas.

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