TAMPA, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Lowe's has agreed to pay $9.5 million to end a class action lawsuit alleging its human resources managers were not classified as managers and were exempt from overtime pay requirements.
Lizeth Lytle and Lowe's Home Centers Inc. entered into the settlement in which the defendants will establish a fund against which Lytle and other similarly situated individuals may file claims in exchange for their release of certain defined claims, according to the settlement document, which was filed Aug. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Lytle filed the class action lawsuit on Aug. 15, 2012, that Lowe’s violated the FLSA by misclassifying the HR Manager position as exempt from the overtime wage provisions of the FLSA, the document states.
Many other opt-in plaintiffs also alleged in declarations that they were similar to Lytle, that they worked a mandatory overtime schedule and that they were not paid for their wages because they were treated as salaried, exempt employees.
Eventually, the court granted conditional class certification on Jan. 21, and notice was sent to the putative class of HR Managers employed within the three-year period of time beginning Jan. 10, 2011, including all currently employed HR Managers.
Upwards of 880 class members filed consent notices with the court to participate in the case.
The defendants will be paying up to the total sum of $9.5 million into a common fund settlement, part of which will be used to compensate individuals who worked as an HR Manager in any store located within the United States during the class period.
Each potential class member who has not already opted-in to this lawsuit will be eligible to opt-in to the settlement to receive a payment based upon a pro rata allocation method.
From the settlement fund, the settling parties have agreed that the plaintiffs and opt-ins who joined this case prior to settlement and other potential class members who timely file a consent to join form will be entitled to receive a payment based upon a pro rata allocation method.
"The parties came to an agreement to resolve the case for the entire class, and [the] defendants believe it is in their best interests to provide all class members the opportunity to share in this settlement," the settlement states. "For that reason, the parties agreed to provide all members of the plaintiff class (as that term is defined) an additional thirty day period after receipt of a new notice to opt-in to the lawsuit."
The settlement agreement also provides for payment of the administration costs in addition to the common fund of up to $75,000 to the third-party claims administrator of the choice of plaintiffs' counsel.
The defendants will pay to plaintiffs' counsel directly the attorneys' fees and costs awarded by the court.
The parties have agreed that the named plaintiff shall receive a service/incentive award in the amount of $7,000 for payment of her significant service and effort related to the investigation of this claim and in assisting and serving as primary class member and consultant in the discovery process.
The parties agree that those opt-in plaintiffs, who were part of the group that the parties agreed would provide representative testimony and be subject to discovery after conditional class certification, and who sat for depositions, should likewise be provided with a service/incentive award of an additional $1,000 in addition to their pro rata share of the settlement proceeds.
"The settlement agreement also compensates plaintiff, opt-in plaintiffs and class members for their attorneys' fees and costs by providing that plaintiffs’ counsel may apply to receive up to thirty-three percent (33.33%) of the maximum gross common fund ($3,166,350.00) for attorneys’ fees and an additional amount of up to $100,000 for reimbursement of incurred litigation costs," the settlement agreement states. "Defendants have agreed to the payment of the attorneys’ fees and costs as awarded by the Court, and have agreed not to contest the fee provision up to this limit."
The plaintiff was represented by Mitchell L. Feldman of Feldman Morgado PA.
The defendant was represented by Juan Enjamio of Hunton & Williams LLP.
The case was assigned to District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington.
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida case number: 8:12-cv-01848
From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at email@example.com.