A California federal judge has granted preliminary approval to a $12 million settlement that would resolve a class action alleging Rite Aid employees’ wages decreased because they were required to pay for their uniforms.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said Thursday that the settlement appears fair and “compares favorably” to settlements in similar uniform-reimbursement cases. The individual settlement amount for the class members averages $365, she said, which is higher than the $286 that class members estimate they spent on uniforms on average.
Rite Aid employees Kristal Nucci, Kelly Shaw and Ana Goswick filed suit against Rite Aid and its subsidiary, Thrifty Payless Inc., in 2019 claiming that the companies failed to reimburse them for navy blue shirts and khakit pants employees were required to wear. The complaint also included allegations of failure to pay minimum wages and claims under the Private Attorneys General Act, a California law that allows workers to sue on behalf of the state and other workers for labor law violations.
The class, certified in June 2020, includes about 25,000 nonexempt Rite Aid employees, excluding pharmacists, pharmacy interns and asset protection agents, who worked at any California store from March 19, 2015, through Feb. 3, 2022, the date of preliminary settlement approval. The workers filed an unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the settlement in October, just a month before the case was set for trial, after four mediation sessions between 2019 and 2021.
According to Judge Beeler's order, the settlement agreement allocates no more than $10,000 each to Nucci, Shaw and Goswick, up to $4 million in attorney fees, and up to $305,000 in costs. An estimated $67,000 will go to Atticus Administration, which Judge Beeler named as the proposed settlement administrator, and $150,000 will be paid to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to settle the PAGA claims.
Class members will divide the remaining $7.5 million based on the number of weeks they worked during the class period, Judge Beeler said. Approximately 4,500 employees hired after Rite Aid ended its mandatory dress policy in March 2020, however, will receive a "nominal payment" of $25.
Anyone hired after March 19, 2018, will also share $50,000 on a pro rata basis for their PAGA claims.