A little over a year since a group of several hundred assistant bank branch managers sued PNC Bank for allegedly denying them overtime pay, a federal judge in Chicago has signed off on a deal to end the litigation for $6 million, which would send around $2,000 on average to each of the allegedly wronged assistant managers and $2 million to the attorneys who brought the case.
On Nov. 29, in a brief order, U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve gave final approval to the settlement deal between defendants Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank and PNC Financial Services Group, and a collection of more than 600 class action plaintiffs. The parties had presented the settlement agreement one day earlier, on Nov. 28.
The litigation had been before St. Eve since November 2015, when named plaintiffs Domonique Natasha Briggs and Samar Hassan filed the putative class action in Chicago federal court.
They were represented in the action by a legal team including attorneys Douglas Werman, of Werman Salas, of Chicago; Justin M. Swartz and Christopher McNerney, of Outten & Golden, of New York, and Paul Mollica, of Outten’s Chicago office; and Gregg Shavitz and Susan Stern, of Shavitz Law Group, of Boca Raton, Fla.
Both Briggs and Hassan had worked as assistant branch managers at PNC locations in Chicago at some point between 2011-2013, and each said they had routinely worked more than 40 hours per week – at times as much as 60 hours per week – yet had been paid only for 40 hours of weekly work. They said PNC had classified them and other assistant managers as salaried employees, exempt from the overtime pay requirements specified in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.
However, the plaintiffs alleged this classification violated those laws, as their primary duties were more akin to those performed by tellers and other hourly employees who would be owed overtime pay under the federal and state wage laws.
PNC had challenged their assertions, and had attempted to prevent the lawsuit from becoming a class action.
In March, however, St. Eve had certified classes of additional plaintiffs, eligible to join the lawsuit nationally under the FLSA and within Illinois under the state wage law.
Within weeks, about 620 additional plaintiffs had signed on to join the class action, court documents said.
In following weeks, PNC and the plaintiffs entered settlement talks, and in mediation this fall, the final $6 million agreement was reached.
According to a memorandum accompanying the Nov. 28 motion for settlement, the $6 million figure represented about 81 percent of the plaintiffs’ lost wages since November 2012.
Briggs and Hassan are each scheduled to receive $12,500 as “service awards” for assuming the “risk” of the litigation, including possible future retaliation from other prospective employers.
Class members are scheduled to receive a payment dependent on their length of service and other conditions. On average, members of the ABM class could expect to receive about $2,011 each.
One-third of the settlement – or $2 million - was set aside for the plaintiffs’ attorneys, whose work, the memo argued, had “bought a significant recovery for Class Members.” They said the $2 million would represent "market rate" for their frims' work on the case.
St. Eve dismissed the case without prejudice, pending the outcome of the notices of settlement. Should no motion be filed to reinstate the case within 180 days, the judge said the dismissal would be with prejudice.
PNC was represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Morgan Lewis Bockius, of Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.