Chipo­tle de­feats class ac­tion law­suit on over­time pay

Metro USA (New York) - - News -

A fed­eral judge on Wed­nes­day granted a bid by Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill Inc. to undo a class ac­tion law­suit by man­ager trainees in six states who say they were un­law­fully de­nied over­time pay.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge An­drew Carter in Man­hat­tan said the for­mer Chipo­tle “ap­pren­tices” from New York, Illi­nois and four other states had vary­ing du­ties de­pend­ing on where they worked and could not show they were all el­i­gi­ble for over­time pay.

The plain­tiffs in the 2012 law­suit said that when they worked in the tem­po­rary, salaried po­si­tions train­ing to man­age new restau­rants, they of­ten per­formed ba­sic tasks that could be as­signed to hourly work­ers. That en­ti­tled them to over­time pay un­der state wage laws, the work­ers said.

Carter’s de­ci­sion blocks the seven work­ers who filed the law­suit from rep­re­sent­ing a class of more than 500 peo­ple, which could end the case al­to­gether.

The com­pany’s vic­tory on Wed­nes­day came as it faced a larger 2014 law­suit filed in fed­eral court in Colorado by 10,000 hourly work­ers who say they were re­quired to work off the clock for no pay. A U.S. ap­peals court in Colorado on Mon­day re­jected Chipo­tle’s bid to undo the na­tion­wide class of work­ers in that case.

Un­like most other fast food chains that op­er­ate on a fran­chise model, Chipo­tle owns its restau­rants and is re­spon­si­ble for wages and other em­ploy­ment de­ci­sions.

Salaried work­ers like the Chipo­tle ap­pren­tices are au­to­mat­i­cally el­i­gi­ble for over­time pay un­der fed­eral law if they earn less than $23,660. Em­ploy­ees who earn more must be paid over­time if they do not have man­age­ment or ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.

Last year, a fed­eral judge blocked a con­tro­ver­sial Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion rule that would have dou­bled the salary thresh­old to about $47,500 and ex­tended over­time pay to more than four mil­lion work­ers.

The U.S. De­part­ment of La­bor ap­pealed the judge’s rul­ing, but it is un­clear whether the ad­min­is­tra­tion of President Don­ald Trump will pur­sue the case.

Trump’s nom­i­nee for U.S. la­bor sec­re­tary, R. Alexan­der Acosta, told a U.S. Se­nate panel last week that he had not made a de­ci­sion about how to pro­ceed on the rule, but was con­cerned about its im­pact on busi­nesses and work­ers.

GETTY IMAGES

Peo­ple walk past a Chipo­tle restau­rant on Broad­way in New York City.

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