Class-Action Wage Suit Against Stewart’s to Proceed
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — While dismissing several claims, federal judge Thomas J. McAvoy also upheld other claims and allowed a lawsuit accusing Stewart's Shops of violating wage laws to proceed.
As CSNews Online previously reported, the lawsuit filed by one former worker on Jan. 9, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany, alleges that Stewart's Shops failed to compensate employees for all hours worked. Specifically, it alleges that employees were routinely required to perform work before and after their scheduled shifts yet were not paid for such time.
The class-action lawsuit also alleges that the Saratoga Springs-based retailer routinely deprived employees of mandatory meal breaks; failed to implement an accurate and effective method to record time worked by employees; failed to provide employees with mandatory disclosures concerning their rate of pay; and failed to pay for the cost to launder and maintain required uniforms.
After the initial lawsuit was filed, two other former Stewart's employees joined the original plaintiff.
The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages and class-action status on behalf of all non-exempt hourly employees who worked for Stewart's the previous three years.
Ryan M. Finn of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy LLP, who brought forth the suit on behalf of the three former Stewart's employees, told the Albany Business Review the judge's decision is "another step forward. It's not a complete victory until the people in the class get paid what they are owed from Stewart's, but I think it's an important step along the way."
On the other side of the matter, Stewart's Shops expressed optimism. The convenience store operator said it is confident in the outcome of the litigation as it treats and pays its employees fairly.
"We are pleased with the judge's decision thus far, but it is too premature to declare victory," Stewart's spokeswoman Maria D'Amelia said in a statement. "We are optimistic about the pending litigation."
Stewart's Shops operates 333 convenience stores in upstate New York and Vermont.