TCC Wireless has agreed to pay $1.15 million to settle an unpaid overtime class action complaint, according to documents given an initial nod of approval late last month by a Chicago federal judge.
The company operates 164 T-Mobile retail stores nationwide, including 33 in Illinois. Former store managers Jonathan Wolfe and Margaret Heklowski filed complaints that now cover 348 people suing TCC Wireless LLC, for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law. Wolfe worked in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Heklowski in Chicago and Hickory Hills.
According to the motion for preliminary settlement approval, affected employees worked 55 hours every week during their TCC employment and say they should have gotten time-and-a-half for hours 41 through 55. In agreeing to the settlement, the company maintains its position the workers were entitled to overtimes wages because it classified them as executives. For their part, the workers say they were not required to supervise two or more other employees on a full-time basis, a requirement for being classified as exempt from laws guaranteeing overtime pay.
The class includes named and opt-in members who worked as retail store managers or assistant managers between July 25, 2014, and Sept. 8, 2017. Of the agreed amount, the settlement fund would retain $730,595 to be paid out in prorated allotments of up to $16,339, with an average payout of $2,099 and no one getting less than $25.
For serving as settlement administrator, RG2 Claims Adminstration LLC will receive $15,515. Wolfe will get a $5,000 service award, while Heklowski’s take will be $7,500. Class counsel Werman Salas P.C., of Chicago, and Winebrake & Santillo, LLC, of Dresher, Pa., will get total fees of no more than $383,333, with litigation costs capped at $8,056, the proposed settlement said.
Wolfe filed his FLSA complaint on behalf of himself and other current and former managers on Dec. 28, 2016. TCC Wireless filed a motion to transfer to federal court in New Jersey on Feb. 16, 2017. But on March 14, Wolfe and Heklowski (then Margaret Fronek) filed an amended complaint adding the Illinois state law allegations; the court denied the motion to transfer on April 11. The parties agreed to private mediation in August and did so Sept. 29 before Lynn Cohn, a clinical law professor at Northwestern University.
Court records indicate the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed the settlement agreement on Nov. 22, and U.S. District Judge Maria Valdez granted it preliminary approval a week later.
The agreement stipulates formulas for calculating individual payouts, factoring in that some class members were paid overtime in certain pay periods but an incorrectly low rate because TVV didn’t include commissions in the regular pay rate, while others were paid some overtime but at an incorrect or straight time rate. Opt-in plaintiffs well collect liquidate damages as well. During discovery, TCC provided the plaintiffs with time records showing each affected employee’s hours for the relevant period.
TCC was represented in the action by attorneys with the firms of Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss P.C., of Southfield, Mich., and Patzik, Frank & Samotny Ltd. , of Chicago.