Class-action settlement for restaurant workers gets preliminary nod
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Around 200 to 300 current or former employees of Panera Bread franchisee Covelli Enterprises stand to get payments under a class action lawsuit settlement that won preliminary approval from a federal judge at a hearing today.
The lawsuit brought in U.S. District Court by former Covelli employee Guy Vines, of Castle Shannon, said that the company relegated black employees to back-of-the-kitchen work and denied them promotional opportunities.
Under the settlement, anyone who worked for Covelli's Panera franchises from Jan. 11, 2008, through Jan. 11, 2012, for more than one year, and applied for or wanted a promotion, can get compensation for alleged lost opportunities. For each hour worked after their first year, they can get 70 cents -- roughly what they would have gotten through a one-level promotion.
Attorney Sam Cordes, who represents Mr. Vines and the class of employees, told U.S. District Chief Judge Gary Lancaster that the settlement terms will soon be published in newspapers in areas in which Covelli franchises operate.
Judge Lancaster gave the settlement his initial nod, though he is expected to hold a hearing to hear any objections from class members.
Neither Mr. Cordes nor the attorney for Covelli would comment after the hearing. Neither had an estimate of the costs to the firm.
In addition to the payments to black employees, Mr. Vines would get $10,000 and Mr. Cordes $66,000 under the settlement agreement.
Based in Warren, Ohio, Covelli has denied having discriminatory practices and has said in court filings that it is settling to avoid the costs and distractions of defending the case.
First Published September 17, 2012 12:31 am