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NEW YORK -- New York State Supreme Court Judge Herman Cahn has entered an order granting class certification to claims by three former workers that The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co., The Food Emporium, and Waldbaum's, all banners of parent company A&P, systematically denied overtime pay to their hourly employees. The case now includes potentially thousands of the Northeast retailer's cashiers, clerks, bakers, deli, and other hourly-paid workers in New York state.
"I am trying to seek a fair deal for myself and other workers -- you should get paid for all the hours that you work," said former Long Island Waldbaum's worker Steven Tedesco, a plaintiff and court-appointed class representative along with onetime Westchester A&P produce clerk Benedetto La Marca and former Mamaroneck Food Emporium bakery employee Dolores Guiddy.
"New York law prohibits companies, like A&P, from making employees work over 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay," explained Piper Hoffman, a partner at law firm Outten & Golden, LLP, which, with Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, was appointed class counsel by the court. "We intend to prove at trial that A&P's wage and hour practices towards low-paid employees were unfair and illegal."
The ex-employees originally filed suit in June 1998. In the class certification order, which was entered last week, the court ordered that plaintiffs could represent a class of "[a]ll full-time hourly employees of Defendants who are employed in Defendants' supermarket stores located in the State of New York, for the period from June 24, 1998 through the date of the commencement of the action, whom Defendants required or permitted to perform work in excess of 40 hours per week without being paid overtime wages."
When contacted by Progressive Grocer, A&P replied that it had "no comment on pending or current litigation."
A&P operates on or about 140 stores in New York state.