One of the largest convenience store chains, Circle K Stores Inc., has agreed to pay about $8.3 million as part of a Las Vegas settlement for failure to pay overtime wages to more than 1,100 store managers across the country.
Terms of the negotiation are expected to be finalized in April, though a federal judge approved the settlement late last month, according to court papers obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The case initially was filed in February 2014 on behalf of former store manager Charles Grahl and “others similarly situated” as a collective action, or a type of class action.
Grahl received a $15,000 award for his role as class representative, and he is expected to receive more once his overtime pay is calculated, according to Grahl’s attorney Joey Mott.
The amount due to each of the current and former managers “will vary widely from person to person” depending on when they worked, in what region and their seniority with the company, Mott said.
According to the lawsuit, Circle K misclassified employees to avoid paying overtime wages.
Grahl was called a store manager but disagreed with the term, his attorneys have said, because those given the title of store manager did not have the authority to make personnel or independent decisions that would affect the business.
According to Grahl’s lawsuit, he worked as a store manager for Circle K from 1995 to 2001 and from 2005 until February 2014, and was paid a weekly salary of about $800.
Grahl, who worked in Las Vegas, claims he and other store managers were required to put in at least 16 hours of overtime a week.
“The settlement is an excellent outcome for all involved,” Mott said.
After the lawsuit was filed, the company changed its overtime payment policies, the lawyer said, calling the result of the litigation “a victory for the workers.”
An attorney for Circle K did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.
Circle K’s principal place of business is in Tempe, Arizona, and the company has more than 3,300 convenience stores throughout the United States, court documents indicate.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach also ordered that a little more than $2.7 million of the settlement be awarded to attorneys for the plaintiffs.
As the negotiations were being finalized, Las Vegas attorney Andrew Rempfer became suddenly ill and died, though he was a “driving force” in reaching the agreement, Mott said.
“It’s a shame that he’s not here to see this through to the end,” Mott said.