Publix Super Markets Inc. will pay $30 million to settle a collective action alleging the grocery chain failed to pay the required amount of overtime to department managers based on a “fluctuating workweek” calculation method. A settlement agreement was filed in Tennessee federal court. Under the proposed deal, Publix—which operates about 1,000 supermarkets in six states—will pay $7.7 million to all opt-in Plaintiffs, as well as $15.5 million to all other department managers and assistant managers who were paid overtime based on a “fluctuating workweek” during roughly the past three years. One-third of the settlement amount—or about $6.6 million—will be allocated for Plaintiff attorneys’ fees and expenses, which is subject to court approval.
The Plaintiffs also requested payments of $7,500, $2,500 and $2,500 to Plaintiffs Amanda Ott, Bruce Bogach and April White, respectively, for their work in representing the class. The suit, filed in 2012, claims the company failed to pay the required amount of overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because it didn’t include employee bonuses in calculating regular rate of pay. In 2013, the court conditionally certified a class of all current and former department managers and assistant managers who worked more than 40 hours in one or more weeks during the relevant period. Subsequently, 1,583 individuals opted into the suit, according to the settlement. Last March, Bogach and White joined as named Plaintiffs. Another case pending before the same court accuses Publix of failing to include overtime pay considerations in holiday bonuses and other benefits for hourly employees.
The settlement requires the Plaintiffs and their attorneys to refrain from speaking to the media about the agreement other than to confirm that the information is available through public records. Lawyers for the Plaintiffs are also prevented from specifying the gross settlement amount on their website, though they may indicate the case has been settled, according to the agreement. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.