The vast majority of FLSA class actions result in settlements, as few employers, frankly, are hardy enough to go to trial and risk even more. An interesting settlement has just been announced. A putative class of casino workers and the Company have requested that a federal court grant preliminary approval to a settlement that resolves allegations of misclassification of allegedly exempt workers. The case is entitled Oberfoell et al. v. Horseshoe Cincinnati Management LLC d/b/a Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, and was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Ohio..
The proposed $775,000 settlement resolves the issue(s) of whether table games supervisors were exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state law. Each of the named plaintiffs would receive $25,000 in service awards, i.e. extra money because they were the lead plaintiffs and more than $250,000 in legal fees for the plaintiffs’ counsel.
The payments would be done (as I have settled such cases) on a prorated basis, based on number of weeks employed as a table games supervisors for a defined period of time. The $470,000 for class members is a little more than half of the monies workers claimed they were owed.
The parties’ motion stated that “trial of this matter would be complex and factually intensive with respect to both liability and damages and that “while plaintiffs believe their claims are strong, they are aware that success is not guaranteed. The workers claimed that they did not fit the executive exemption. me in a misclassification matter, according to the motion.
If I, as the employer’s counsel, believe my case is bad, or problematic, I counsel the employer to get out as quickly and cheaply (whatever that means) as possible. Herein, there must have been issues of “primary duty” and whether the supervisors performed too much non-exempt work. Defending administrative exemption cases is even tougher because who knows, really, what discretion and independent judgment are.
Concomitant to settling a bad case, fixing the problem is even more paramount. You don’t want to settle something and then, a handful of months later, be hit again with the same allegations.
Fool me once…