Joe's Crab Shack employees lose case seeking overtime pay

By Gabriel Neves | Sep 10, 2018

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – A group of current and former Joe's Crab Shack managerial/executive employees seeking overtime pay have lost their appeal.

Judge Dennis Perluss, on the bench of the California Second District Court of Appeal, Division Seven issued a 27-page ruling Aug. 28 affirming the Los Angeles County Superior Court decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Roberto Martinez and three other former managers against Landry's Restaurants Inc., the owners of the Joe's Crab Shack brand.

Martinez and the other three current and former employees filed the suit claiming that they were "allegedly misclassified as exempt managerial/executive employees and unlawfully denied overtime pay," the ruling stated.

The lower court, per the decision, granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the group "had failed to bring their lawsuit to trial within five years, as extended."

The plaintiffs stated in the appeal that "the court abused its discretion in refusing to exclude from its calculation of the mandatory five-year period 319 days during which a writ petition challenging that court’s order to produce the names and contact information for putative class members was pending, 169 days between the notice of remand following removal of the case to U.S. District Court and the Ninth Circuit’s order affirming the District Court’s remand, and a nine-month period between the court’s order granting the Martinez parties’ motion to compel production of electronically stored information and full compliance with that order," the ruling states.

As stated in the ruling, "Martinez filed the original complaint in this lawsuit on Sept. 7, 2007, seeking to represent a class of salaried Joe’s Crab Shack employees on claims they had been misclassified as exempt managerial/executive employees and were entitled to overtime pay." 

The other three plaintiffs were included in the lawsuit in 2010 as plaintiffs and putative class representatives.

The former employees declared, per the ruling, that "they routinely worked more than 55 hours per week and spent the majority of time performing tasks ordinarily performed by hourly employees (for example, filling in when needed as cooks, servers, bussers or kitchen staff), for which they received no overtime compensation."

After years of discoveries and other court activities, on July 2016, Martinez filed a motion to set trial. On Aug. 3, 2016, the lower court dismissed the case, stating that "the Martinez parties had failed to bring their lawsuit to trial within five years, as extended," as the "the time to bring the action to trial had expired on Aug. 26, 2015."

In light of that issue, Perluss stated in his ruling that the time to bring the action to trial expired on July 7, 2015, adding that however one calculates that time, "would still result in the five-year deadline falling at least several weeks prior to the filing of both the motion to dismiss and the Martinez parties’ motion to sever and set for trial Martinez’s individual claims."

California Second Appellate District, Division Seven case number B278513

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