A California federal judge Thursday preliminarily approved a $2 million settlement and conditionally certified a class of 5,500 workers in a suit accusing McDonald's Restaurants of California Inc. of issuing inaccurate wage statements.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Helena M. Barch-Kuchta claimed that the settlement appeared to be fair and would end lead plaintiff Gennifer Manzo's claims for violations of the California Labor Code.
The judge further asserted that Manzo acknowledged that two cases currently before the Ninth Circuit could "cast doubt" on her theories of liability, and that, "[w]hile there was no motion practice or formal discovery, the parties are not to be faulted for their cooperation and desire to swiftly resolve the matter given the uncertainty caused by relevant pending appeals."
Manzo, a former McDonald's employee, filed the proposed class action in September 2020, alleging the company did not properly identify on her wage statement the overtime rate as 1.5 times the regular rate of pay, instead labeling it as "one-half (0.5) the base hourly rate of pay," the judge said in the order.
The suit also alleged the company failed to identify the correct rates of pay and hours for "MQI True Up" wages, which the plaintiff characterized as a type of overtime pay.
The proposed settlement would result in an average payout per class member of $216.05, a service payment of $10,000 for Manzo, and up to 33.33% of the $2 million settlement fund for class counsel from Diversity Law Group PC, Polaris Law Group, Hyun Legal APC, and Law Offices of Choi & Associates PC.
The proposed settlement class includes two subgroups of employees. The first is for California nonexempt employees who received the allegedly mislabeled overtime wages at any time from June 2, 2020, through the preliminary approval date and are subject to a class action settlement in a similar case, Sanchez v. McDonald's Restaurants of California Inc.
The second would be for the same type of workers starting on April 6, 2019, and that were not subject to the Sanchez settlement.
According to the ruling, the plaintiff informed the court of pending Ninth Circuit appeals in two wage cases, Magadia v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. and General Atomics v. Superior Court. The judge said the cases "appear to reject or at least cast serious doubt on both of plaintiff's theories of recovery."