In Case With National Implications, Applebee’s Worker Suit Goes to Appellate Court

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In Case With National Implications, Applebee’s Worker Suit Goes to Appellate Court

Second Circuit Will Consider Whether a Lower Court Erred in Denying Class-Action Status for New York Applebee’s Workers

WASHINGTON - The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to consider whether a lawsuit filed by a group of Applebee’s workers for unpaid wages can be heard as a class action. The case has national implications for workers and consumers.

Public Citizen petitioned the appellate court in April, contending that a federal district court in New York was wrong to tell a group of Applebee’s workers that their lawsuit for unpaid wages could not be heard as a class action. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York denied class certification after incorrectly interpreting the March 27 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Comcast v. Behrend, Public Citizen maintains.

The outcome of the New York case has national implications for a wide array of pending class-action cases across the country that are being challenged in the wake of the Comcast decision. If the lower court decision stands, and the workers are not permitted to band together to seek back wages that were illegally withheld by their employer, then wage-and-hour laws and other protections for workers and consumers could become prohibitively difficult to enforce.

In the case, filed in May 2010, five Applebee’s workers allege, among other things, that the company violated a New York state “spread of hours” law requiring employers to pay an extra hour’s pay whenever an employee’s work time spans more than 10 hours in a day, and that Applebee’s managers changed time records to reflect breaks that its employees didn’t take. The workers sought certification of a class encompassing current and former Applebee’s workers throughout the state, a group estimated to include as many as 10,000 individuals.

For more information, visit http://www.citizen.org/litigation/forms/cases/getlinkforcase.cfm?cID=819.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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