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Wage and hour complaint could get class action status

The U.S. Supreme Court outlined the requirements of attaining class action status in one of its decisions. A U.S. District Court judge denied a group of Applebee's employees class action status based on an interpretation of the Supreme Court's decision. Georgia business owners may benefit from knowing that the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the judged erred and that the wage and hour complaint could receive class action status in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision.

The case was remanded back to the U.S. District Court to rule on the request for class action status based upon how the Second Circuit and six other U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal interpret the applicable Supreme Court ruling. The lower court judge denied the status on the belief that each individual in the class would be required to calculate his or her own damages, which would mean that the damages for each member of the class were not the same. The number included in the class in this case could potentially be in the thousands in the United States alone.

The lawsuit was originally filed in New York against the owner of nearly 50 Applebee's franchise locations in that state, alleging that they are owed back pay for unpaid wages mandated by the state. They also claim that some of the hours they worked were removed from their timecards. The owner of the New York locations also owns approximately 1,900 other franchise locations through the country and overseas.

Federal and Georgia state laws set the provisions regarding the payment of non-exempt employees, typically employees who are paid by the hour and entitled to overtime pay. Businesses in the state must be sure that they are in compliance with these laws and keep detailed records, which could either prevent a wage and hour complaint or help in defending one. Recent court decisions may affect the course of litigation, and therefore, it is imperative to keep abreast of such decisions and how they affect the application of law throughout the court system.

Source: krwg.org, "Public Citizen: Good News That Applebee's Wage Theft Case Can Proceed As Class Action", Feb. 10, 2015

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