Judge finds for plaintiff in labor lawsuit against Pizza Hut

Sept. 22, 2004

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — U.S. District Court (Central District of California) Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr. ruled that Pizza Hut violated labor laws by improperly classifying a restaurant manager as an executive.

According to a news release from lawyers representing Ann Coldiron, the plaintiff in the case, Pizza Hut violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying her as an exempt employee. The exemption kept Coldiron from receiving overtime pay while working as a "Restaurant General Manager" for Pizza Hut.

Coldiron, represented by Castle, Petersen & Krause LLP, wants to recover unpaid overtime wages she claims she's due. In the release, her attorney's stated, "Despite the executive sounding title of RGM, Coldiron, and others similarly situated, were misclassified as exempt as their primary or principal duties were non-managerial."

According to the release, approximately 90 percent of RGMs' working time is spent performing production-related, non-exempt tasks alongside subordinates they supervised. Those tasks include making pizzas, taking telephone orders and cleaning the facilities. Coldiron and her management counterparts worked in excess of 50 hours per week without overtime pay.

A Pizza Hut representative was not available for comment at press time.

In May the Court granted Coldiron's Motion for Class Certification of the suit, which would include all current and former Pizza Hut employees nationwide employed as an RGM or Restaurant Training Manager at any time between August 18, 2000 and the present, to seek damages in the form of unpaid overtime from Pizza Hut.

Some 3,100 approved potential litigants currently have the opportunity to opt into the class during the discovery phase. After that the class must be certified as proper or not before proceeding to negotiation or trial.

Should the class be certifed, it will seek damages in the amount of time and one-half for all hours worked more than 40 per week, plus penalties. Double damages, the release said, may be granted for up to the three-year time period and could reach upwards of $100,000 per class member.

Coldiron's counsel estimates the potential recovery for the class could reach $300 million.

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Topics: Pizza Hut

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