Court Approves $4.2 Million Settlement in Suit for Unpaid Overtime

In early January, a Pennsylvania federal judge approved a $4.2 million settlement between Pittsburgh-based grocery chain Giant Eagle and employees who were “team leaders” at its grocery stores and GetGo convenience stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Andrew Fitch et al. v. Giant Eagle Inc., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, team leaders made allegations of misclassification and unpaid overtime in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage laws.

Attorneys will receive $1.4 million of the settlement fund, while nearly 3,000 current and former employees called “team leaders,” “assistant store leaders,” and similar titles will receive up to $1,000 each to settle claims that the grocer had misclassified them as exempt from overtime in violation of federal and state law.

U.S. District Judge Robert Colville approved the unopposed settlement agreement that the workers reached with Giant Eagle during several mediation sessions that started in the spring of 2021. Giant Eagle fiercely defended the suit, denying a misclassification of workers and disputing how many hours workers claimed that they typically worked in excess of a 40-hour workweek.

“The settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and it provides substantial benefit for the plaintiffs,” Judge Colville said. “The narrowly tailored release does not frustrate the FLSA.” Judge Colville administratively closed the case pending the claims administrator’s handling of the settlement.

The settlement agreement includes two consolidated cases brought by Giant Eagle and GetGo employees who claimed they had been misclassified as managers even though their job duties largely overlapped with overtime-eligible, non-management workers. 

The settlement will establish a $2.64 million pool for claims from class members who were assistant store leaders, formerly known as “senior team leaders,” at GetGo, between July 2015 and September 2021, or team leaders between November 2014 and September 2021. Most employees fell into only one category, though some will get notifications for both classes.

The amount each class member can claim will be based on a formula accounting for how many eligible work weeks they were employed by Giant Eagle or GetGo. The six named plaintiffs and 13 plaintiffs who opted into the suits and participated in depositions and hearings will split a $60,000 service award, and $24,000 will go to A.B. Data Ltd., the claims administrator.

While the service-award recipients signed a general release of their claims against Giant Eagle, the remaining members of the class would only get a more limited release and could completely opt-out if they want to pursue individual litigation.

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