The plaintiffs — current and former workers at restaurants run by Farmers Restaurant Group LLC — urged a Washington, D.C., federal judge Tuesday to preliminarily approve the deal, which would settle their class and collective claims. The workers said 962 class members could get a piece of the settlement fund, and that the deal was reasonable and fair.
“The parties had conducted meaningful discovery and had engaged in strenuous motions practice at the time of the settlement,” the plaintiffs said. “The reaction of the class representatives has been overwhelmingly positive, and the plaintiffs anticipate that the reaction of the class will mirror their view. Both parties were represented by experienced counsel who believe that the settlement is fair and reasonable.”
The workers had alleged they were stiffed on overtime and minimum wage in violation of various laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, and that the company also breached the D.C. Sick Leave Act by denying paid sick time.
The workers had asked the court last year for collective action certification, and in January, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly partially granted the motion, limiting it to servers and establishing subclasses, among other things, according to court documents.
In March, the plaintiffs made a class certification bid under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but in May, the parties agreed to go into mediation, the plaintiffs said.
The plaintiffs said it would be costly and complex to go forward with the litigation or go to a trial, but that the settlement “makes monetary relief available to class members in a prompt and efficient manner.” Additionally, the class representatives endorse the settlement, the plaintiffs said.
“Plaintiffs believe that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution of the dispute and commend FRG for coming to the table early and in good faith to resolve this wage and hour litigation,” Molly Elkin, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
Meredith S. Campbell, an attorney for the restaurant group, said in a statement that “the restaurants dispute all allegations but made the business decision to resolve the claims.”
The plaintiffs are represented by Gregory K. McGillivary, Molly Elkin, T. Reid Coploff, Sarah M. Block and Hillary LeBeau of McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP.
Farmers Restaurant Group is represented by Meredith S. Campbell and Joy C. Einstein of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker PA.
The case is Stephens et al. v. Farmers Restaurant Group et al., case number 1:17-cv-01087, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.