By Chandra Lye | Jul 26, 2018

LOS ANGELES – Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Company recently agreed to a proposed settlement in a lawsuit that claims labor law violations at their retail stores in California.

The retailer filed a request for preliminary approval of the proposed $9.6 million settlement July 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Samantha Jones and Robert Grob had filed the class action lawsuit that claims the retail giant did not honor the wage order with its call-in procedure for retail store employees. 

“They allege that Abercrombie required certain nonexempt hourly employees to call the store an hour before their scheduled shift to ensure that they were still needed to work at the location that day," the court filing said. "Plaintiffs allege the call-in process typically took 5-10 minutes. When the employee was not needed, and therefore did not travel to work and appear for a shift, the employee was not paid.”

The plaintiffs claim this violated the wage order, which indicates the employees should have been paid for at least two hours if they were available to work the scheduled shift but did not show up.

However, the defendant disagreed. “The wage order does not and cannot provide a private right of action, as the California Court of Appeal has clearly held,” they stated in the court record

“Even if plaintiffs had an avenue to sue for reporting time penalties, their proposed interpretation – that calling in to check one’s schedule is 'report(ing) for work' – appears to be prohibited by the plain meaning of the phrase. In the retail context, 'report for work' can only mean show up at work (and) ready for work.”

They also note that legislators recently turned down a bill, called the Fair Scheduling Act of 2015, that would have backed the plaintiffs’ claims.

“The bill would have created an obligation to pay call-in shift pay where an employee is required to call in at a scheduled time to inquire as to whether he or she is to work a certain shift, and where the employee ultimately “is not called in to work,” they wrote. 

The company argued that such legislation would not have been considered if the situation was covered by the wage order. “Regardless of plaintiffs’ thoughts about where the line should be drawn – or even that some in the California Legislature agree with them – this is where it was drawn, and has stayed for 70 years.”

The defendants and plaintiffs attended two mediation sessions to try and resolve the dispute.

“Defendants join plaintiffs’ request that the court approve this settlement and grant conditional certification of the proposed class for settlement," the filing said. 

The case was before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The preliminary approval documents were filed on July 16, 2018.

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