Atlanta, Georgia (PRWEB) June 11, 2014
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has approved one of the largest settlements of a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act in the history of that court. On May 28, 2014, U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt, Jr., authorized a settlement of $3,075,000.00 in the case of Cheryl Carter, et al. v. Russell Stover Candies, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-01522-WBH. The plaintiffs were represented by Arch Stokes, John Hunt and Margaret Stokes of Stokes, Wagner, Hunt, Maretz & Terrell in Atlanta, Georgia.
In Carter, nine individuals originally filed suit in May 2013 alleging that Russell Stover Candies had failed to pay them for the overtime hours they had worked. Each plaintiff was a present or former sales representative for the company and filed the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other sales representatives. They alleged that they regularly had worked over 40 hours in a week during the previous three years. The plaintiffs also claimed that instead of actually selling Russell Stover products, they primarily had engaged in merchandising work, such as stocking and cleaning store shelves – activities that generally require the payment of overtime under the federal wage and hour laws.
Russell Stover, the largest manufacturer of boxed chocolates in North America, denied the plaintiffs’ allegations. It contended that the plaintiffs were outside sales persons who had been properly classified as exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA.
The court subsequently allowed the case to proceed initially as a collective action. A total of 103 current and former Russell Stover sales representatives from across the country eventually joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs. Following three full days of mediation in Atlanta, the plaintiffs and the company reached a settlement that then was subject to review and approval by the court. Under the terms of the parties’ agreement, each of the 103 class members will receive a settlement payment by June 11, 2014.