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    Price Chopper Hit With Wage Violation Suit

    Class action claims worker misclassification to avoid paying overtime

    By Bridget Goldschmidt, Stagnito Business Information

    A federal class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts charges that Price Chopper Supermarkets misclassified workers to get out of paying overtime compensation, violating federal and state wage laws.

    According to the firms Cohen Kinne Valicente & Cook LLP and Outten & Golden LLP, which filed the suit, the grocery chain lowers its labor costs by unlawfully classifying its department "team leaders" -- the company's term for department managers -- as exempt from overtime protections so that they are assigned to working more than 40 hours a week without receiving the overtime premium required by law.

    The named plaintiff, Shelly J. Davine, along with the suit's class of co-workers, alleged that she worked beside overtime-eligible employees, doing the same work but without receiving overtime. Davine, who worked as a department team leader/manager in three Massachusetts Price Chopper stores from 1983 through June 2014, contended in the suit that she regularly worked more than 45 hours a week, and often as much as 50 hours a week, without being paid overtime compensation.

    "Price Chopper's team leaders and department heads are hard-working people who deserve to recover unpaid wages for the long hours of overtime they have worked," said Kevin M. Kinne, of Cohen Kinne, which has three offices in Massachusetts. "We also want to make sure that, going forward, they are properly classified and compensated in compliance with federal and state wage laws."

    "We intend to ask the court to authorize notice of the lawsuit to all team leaders and department managers so that they will have a chance to participate in the lawsuit and attempt to vindicate their rights to be properly compensated," added Rachel Bien, of Outten & Golden, in New York.

    When contacted by PG for comment, Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub responded in a statement: "At this time, we haven't been served with the complaint, so we have not had the opportunity to review the allegations. With regard to compliance with wage and hour laws, we are very familiar with their requirements and the analysis that must be done to make sure that employees are paid accordingly. We take our obligations to our employees seriously and take the necessary steps to ensure that we comply with the law."

    The defendants in the class action are the Golub Corp. (the chain's parent company), The Price Chopper Inc., Price Chopper Operating Co. of Massachusetts Inc., Neil M. Golub, Jerel Golub, John J. Enders Jr., Christine C. Daniels, and Jerel T. Golub. The Schenectady, N.Y.-based grocer operates 134 grocery stores in the Northeast, including 16 in Massachusetts.

    By Bridget Goldschmidt, Stagnito Business Information
    • About Bridget Goldschmidt In addition to serving as Progressive Grocer’s Managing Editor, Bridget writes many print and digital features encompassing a range of grocery and fresh categories across the store. Bridget also enjoys on-site reporting assignments at such key industry events as the New York Fancy Food Show and the International Boston Seafood Show, in addition to visiting stores for PG’s prestigious Store of the Month feature. In her years with the magazine, she has developed into a knowledgeable voice on grocery industry trends, sought by such distinguished publications as The New York Times.

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