Multiple plaintiffs can have the option to consolidate their claims into one lawsuit if their claims are sufficiently similar. In the case of employee class action lawsuits, this usually requires the plaintiffs to be able to prove that the alleged violations were the result of standard business practices and that they were systematic throughout the company.
Once plaintiffs have been able to prove they qualify for class status, it usually isn’t too hard to combine the lawsuit with other lawsuits against the same defendant with similar claims, if there are any out there. The ability to combine the claims of multiple plaintiffs into one lawsuit benefits the plaintiffs who might not otherwise have an opportunity to bring their claims to court, especially if their claims are small. It also benefits the court because they get to deal with an issue once and be done with it, rather than getting inundated with many lawsuits all dealing with the same issue.
In the case of Cadete Enterprises Inc., a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee, a wage and hour lawsuit filed by two employees is asking to be combined with another lawsuit filed against the company with similar claims.
The first lawsuit was filed by Gassan Marzuq and Lisa Chantre and alleges Cadete illegally classified its managers as exempt from overtime. Chantre died three days after she and Marzuq filed their amended complaint in 2012, but her estate is continuing to pursue the legal dispute in her interests. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), overtime is defined as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. All hourly employees working in the U.S. are entitled to one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.
The FLSA does allow some employees to be held exempt from the overtime requirement, but it is very strict about the types of employees that can qualify for the exemption. Managers are often classified as exempt under the executive category, but the Act specifies that the executive category requires employees to spend at least half their time managing other employees, be able to discipline those employees, and have significant say in the hiring and firing of the employees that work under them. It is common for companies to classify all their managers as exempt from the overtime requirement, regardless of whether they meet the qualifications.
Marzuq and Chantre allege they were misclassified and should have been paid as hourly employees. As a result they’re alleging Cadete owes them back wages for the overtime they allegedly worked without the proper overtime compensation.
Chantre’s estate and Marzuq are now trying to consolidate their claims with that of Pike v. New Generation Donut. The latter lawsuit was filed a year after Chantre and Marzuq filed their claims, but it includes many of the same allegations. The Pike case has been stayed since 2013 so it has not yet gone through discovery. Because Chantre and Marzuq’s case has already gone through those steps and is now awaiting trial, Cadete has been arguing that combining the two cases would be improper. It is also alleging the two cases have too many individual differences that need to be taken into account to justify combining the cases. Cadete further pointed out the cases had different claims: Pike filed for claims under federal and state minimum wage laws, whereas Chantre and Marzuq only filed for claims under the FLSA.
But the matter in dispute is whether Cadete misclassified its managers. As long as that allegation remains at the heart of the matter, the court may deem it reasonable to combine the two lawsuits into one.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Palatine and Hoffman Estates. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Skokie, Niles and Morton Grove overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.