Current Investigations & Cases
Current Investigations & Cases
If you have any information to assist in our investigation of any of the cases below, and are not a current manager with these companies, please contact us.
Jock et al. v. Sterling Jewelers Inc.
FEMALE EMPLOYEES OF STERLING JEWELERS WIN CLASS CERTIFICATION OF TITLE VII CLAIMS AND CONDITIONAL CERTIFICATION FOR EQUAL PAY ACT CLAIMS
On February 29, 2016, the Arbitrator in the action Jock et al. v. Sterling Jewelers Inc. issued two important rulings. First, the Arbitrator ruled that current and former female sales employees of Sterling together may pursue their claims under the Equal Pay Act, in which they claim that Sterling paid them less than males performing the same work in the same establishment. Second, the Arbitrator granted Claimants’ request for equitable tolling that allows these female employees to reach back thirteen years to bring their claims if they worked as sales associates, department managers, assistant managers, or store managers for Sterling anytime between October 16, 2003 and the present day. The ruling conditionally certifying the Equal Pay Act claims can be read here. The Equal Pay Act requires potential members of the collective action to indicate that they wish to join the collective action by submitting a Consent to Join form.
These rulings are in addition to the Arbitrator’s ruling on February 2, 2015 that allows current and former female sales employees of Sterling to pursue together in a class action their claims under Title VII. Specifically, on February 2, 2015, after a lengthy hearing and extensive briefing, Arbitrator Kathleen Roberts issued a ruling certifying a class, which includes approximately 69,000 current and former women employees at Sterling Jewelers Inc.’s retail stores nationwide dating back to 2004 and going forward to the present and up to the first day of trial. The ruling permits the class to try, on a classwide basis, claims alleging that Sterling’s pay and promotion practices have had an adverse effect on women sales employees. If the class succeeds in proving that the challenged pay and promotion practices were discriminatory, then, the Arbitrator also ruled, the class may seek classwide changes to the challenged pay and promotion practices. The ruling also provides that if the class proves the challenged practices were discriminatory, the Arbitrator will establish procedures to allow class members to recover damages for the wages and promotional opportunities lost because of the discrimination. The Arbitrator also ruled that the claim alleging intentional discrimination did not satisfy the high standard for class certification that the Supreme Court recently announced. However, the Named Claimants and current and former employees may still pursue individual claims of intentional discrimination. The ruling (Class Determination Award) can be read here.
WHAT IS THIS CASE ABOUT?
On March 24, 2008, on behalf of themselves and other current and former female employees of Sterling, Claimants Laryssa Jock, Christy Meierdiercks, Maria House, Denise Maddox, Lisa McConnell, Gloria Huff (Pagan), Judy Reed, Linda Rhodes, Nina Shahmirzadi, Leighla Murphy (Smith), Dawn Souto-Coons, and Marie Wolf, who are current and former female employees of Sterling, filed a lawsuit in arbitration alleging they were paid less than similarly-situated male employees and were denied promotional opportunities because of their gender. The case was filed in arbitration before the American Arbitration Association, a private agency that manages arbitrations, rather than in court, because Sterling’s RESOLVE Program requires that employees bring these claims in arbitration.
Claimants, on behalf of themselves and other current and former female employees of Sterling, sued Sterling under federal civil rights laws alleging that Sterling paid them less than male employees performing the same work and denied them opportunities for promotion because of their gender. Specifically, Claimants brought this arbitration under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act.
Sterling denies that it has discriminated against Claimants or any other current or former female employee and alleges that all of the pay and promotion decisions that it has made with regard to its female employees have been for non-discriminatory reasons.
We expect to go to trial for both the EPA and Title claims in the fall of 2017.
OTHER IMPORTANT RECENT DECISIONS
On February 3, 2015, following the issuance of the Class Determination Award, Sterling sent an email to all its employees, including members of the certified class arbitration, describing the Arbitrator’s Award in a way that the Arbitrator characterized as “improper” and erroneous. Class Counsel challenged Sterling’s memo to its employees on grounds that it was misleading.
On March 16, 2015, the Arbitrator ruled that Sterling’s February 3, 2015 email communication to its employees “presents a seriously incomplete and misleading description of the [Class Determination] Award that diminishes the significance of the Award and could potentially discourage interest and participation in the class arbitrations.” She found Sterling’s email “fail[ed] to convey the central determination of the Award: the certification of a class of tens of thousands of current and former female employees with respect to claims of discrimination based upon disparate impact.”
In this decision, the Arbitrator reiterated that that class members to the Arbitration are represented by Class Counsel (contact information provided below) and that Sterling’s attorneys are prohibited from contacting class members with respect to the subject matter of the Arbitration unless approved by Class Counsel or by order of the Arbitrator. The Arbitrator’s Order can be read here.
QUESTIONS AND YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION
If you have any questions about your rights or role in regards to this case, please contact us, Class Counsel. It is very important that anyone, female or male, who has information about these discrimination allegations or more generally about how Sterling has treated its women employees please call us, Burr & Smith, at 813-253-2010 (ask for Connie Lowe). You may also contact our co-counsel Thomas A. Warren Law Offices, P.L., (ask for Misty McKinnon) toll-free at 866-854-5152; or Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, P.L.L.C. at 202-408-4600 (ask for Julia Montiel). You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are interested in speaking with former or current employees, both male and female. (Please note that we are not ethically permitted to discuss the case with current managers unless they believe they have experienced or are experiencing gender discrimination at Sterling).
Griffith v. Landry’s Inc. and CHLN, Inc.
(Chart House/Landry’s Seafood House Restaurants)
Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and all tipped employees employed by Landry’s Inc. and CHLN, Inc. (“Landry’s”) doing business as Chart House or Landry’s Seafood House restaurants in Florida filed a class and collective action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging that Landry’s violated federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act) and Florida law (Article X, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution) by deducting earnings from tipped employees paychecks and/or retaining their tips for participation in Landry’s Employee Discount Program. The Employee Discount Program allows employees to have soda, coffee, and tea during the shifts, and to receive discounted meals, lodging, and other amenities at Landry’s properties, but improperly reduces tipped employees below the minimum wage or retains their tips. On January 31, 2017, the Court certified this action as a class action allowing Plaintiffs to pursue these claims on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated and to seek for themselves and the class unpaid minimum wages, compensatory damages for properly retained tips, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. This case is Griffith et al. v. Landry’s, Inc. et al., 8:14-cv-03213-MSS-JSS (M.D. Fla.).
Bucceri v. Cumberland Farms, Inc.
Plaintiffs have filed a collective action on behalf of current and former Cumberland Farms Store Managers for unpaid overtime compensation. Plaintiffs allege that they and other Store Managers were improperly classified as exempt employees and denied overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiffs have obtained conditional certification and 109 current and former Store Managers have join the case as opt-in plaintiffs. This case is Bucceri et al. v. CumberlandFarms, Inc., 1:15-cv-13955-IT (D. Mass).
Brown v. Landry’s, Inc.
(Grand Concourse Restaurant in Pennsylvania)
Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and other tipped employees have filed a class action lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court alleging banquet servers working at the Grand Concourse Restaurant in Pennsylvania were not permitted to retain all their tips and were required to give a portion of their tips earned in serving banquets back to the restaurant. Plaintiffs allege banquet servers and other similarly situated wait staff employees did not retain the proceeds of all gratuities and were denied minimum wages under Pennsylvania minimum wage law. Plaintiffs have move the Court for certification of the class claims so that Plaintiffs may pursue these claims on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated tipped employees and to seek for themselves and the class unpaid minimum wages, compensatory damages for properly retained tips, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. This case is Brown et al. v. Landry’s, Inc. et al., GD 15-10078 (5th Judicial Circuit, Allegheny County, PA).
Roberts v. The TJX Companies, Inc., et al.
(Marshalls and HomeGoods Stores)
Plaintiffs in Roberts et al. v. The TJX Companies et al., 1:13-CV-13142 (D. Mass.), on behalf of themselves and other Merchandise Assistant Store Managers have filed a class and collective action against TJX entities d/b/a HomeGoods and Marshalls in the United States District Court for Massachusetts alleging Merchandise Assistant Managers were misclassified as exempt and were denied overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of forty hours in a work week in the performance of this work. Plaintiffs have brought their claims under federal law for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and under state law for violations of New York Labor Laws and seek unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. On March 31, 2017, the court granted conditional certification of the FLSA claims on behalf of all Merchandise Assistant Managers who worked at Home Goods and Marshalls at any time from November 1, 2012 to March 31, 2017.
Boyd et al. v. SFS Communications, LLC
Plaintiffs filed a class and collective action alleging that SFS Communications, LLC and related entities failed to pay them adequate wages, including minimum and overtime wages for all hours worked, and made improper deductions from their wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. In January 2017, the court conditionally certified the class of all current and former Technicians/Installers who performed installation and repair work in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. for SFS Communications, LLC at any time from December 4, 2012 to the present. The lawsuit seeks unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, treble damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The case is currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Boyd et al. v. SFS Communications, et al., Case No.: 8:15-cv-03068-PJM.
Wolf et al. v. Monster Chef Inc., et al. d/b/a Vines Grille & Wine Bar
Plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and other wait staff employees have filed a class action against Monster Chef Inc. d/b/a Vines Grille & Wine Bar alleging that Defendants practice of requiring them to share tips with the band and managers violated the Florida Constitution (Article X, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution). Plaintiffs seek on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated wait staff employees unpaid minimum wages, liquidated damages, compensatory damages in the amount of improperly shared tips, and attorneys’ fees and costs. The case is currently pending in the Ninth Judicial Circuit in and for Orange County, Florida, Wolf et al. v. Monster Chef Inc. d/b/a Vines Grille & Wine Bar et al., Case No. 2017-CA-001363-O.
Woznicki vs. Raydon Corporation et al.
On December 5, 2018, Plaintiff Stephanie Woznicki filed a putative class action in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando against Raydon Corporation, as well as Donald K. Ariel, David P. Donovan, the ESOP Committee of the Raydon Corporation Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Lubbock National Bank under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) on behalf of herself and a class of participants in, and beneficiaries of, the Raydon Corporation Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“the ESOP” or “the Plan”) to restore losses to the Plan.
These claims arise out of a transaction on September 30, 2015 in which Defendants Donald K. Ariel and David P. Donovan sold 100% of the stock of Raydon Corporation (“the September 2015 ESOP Transaction”) to the ESOP for $60,500,000, and alleged subsequent breaches by the fiduciaries of the ESOP. The ESOP’s stock was valued by Lubbock National Bank at only $4,550,000 as of December 31, 2017.
Plaintiff alleges that the Transaction was not designed to be in the best interests of the ESOP participants; the selling shareholders failed to disclose material information to the Trustee, Defendant Lubbock National Bank, about the loss of a key contract; and Defendant Lubbock National Bank failed to perform adequate due diligence and caused the ESOP to pay in excess of fair market value. As a result of alleged violations of ERISA’s fiduciary rules by the fiduciaries entrusted with their Plan, Plaintiff and other ESOP participants and beneficiaries allege they have not received all of the hard-earned retirement benefits or the loyal and prudent management of the ESOP to which they are entitled.
The Putative Class Action Complaint can be downloaded here.
If you have any information or questions about the case please contact us.
Plaintiff is represented by Sam Smith and Loren Donnell, BURR & SMITH, LLP and our co-counsel, Daniel Feinberg, FEINBERG, JACKSON, WORTHMAN & WASOW LLP, Berkeley, CA, who can be reached at (510) 269-7998 and R. Joseph Barton, BLOCK & LEVITON LLP, Washington, DC, who can be reached at (202) 734-7046.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. We will also provide you on request with additional information on any other statements contained in this website.
Ⓒ Copyright 2016, Burr & Smith, LLP, All Rights Reserved