Ex-Worker Asks for Court’s Approval of $575K Settlement with AT&T in Calif. Wage and Hour Class Action

On Tuesday, the plaintiff who filed suit against AT&T Mobility Services LLC over alleged state labor law violations moved for preliminary approval of the parties’ settlement. The 2019 case that originated in state court asserts that the wireless carrier failed to pay non-exempt employees minimum, overtime, and other due wages.

As previously reported, the court largely denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss last October. That decision came after the plaintiff moved for sanctions against AT&T, claiming that the company was sandbagging his discovery efforts.

In the court’s ruling on AT&T’s motion to dismiss, Judge Dale A. Drozd of the Eastern District of California said the plaintiff stated viable claims for wage underpayment, meal period premium underpayment, and failure to keep valid records, among other causes of action.

Last month, the parties notified the court that they had reached agreement. Now, the plaintiff moves for preliminary approval of the settlement and his counsel for an award of attorneys’ fees. 

The filing seeks to certify a settlement class of California AT&T employees classified as non-exempt who worked for the company from Nov. 2, 2021 to the date the court grants preliminary approval. The plaintiff notes that another case against AT&T proceeding in state court secured a settlement for similar wage and hour claims in the August 2015-Nov. 1, 2021 time period.

According to the filing, class members need not file a claim in order to receive an average payment of $85. 

The motion also contemplates settlement administration costs which the plaintiff says will not exceed $30,000. Too, counsel seeks attorneys’ fees equating to about $192,000, or one third of the non-reversionary settlement. After those deductions and $10,000 in PAGA penalties, the balance of approximately $325,833 will be available for distribution to class members, the filing says.

The plaintiff argues that the settlement was negotiated fairly and reflects the strengths and weaknesses of his case, including the risks of further litigation. “The proposed settlement thus provides Class Members with the opportunity to obtain relief in a prompt and efficient matter, rather than through a lengthy litigation process with the potential for appeals,” the motion says.

The preliminary approval hearing is scheduled for March 22. The plaintiff and putative class are represented by Bradley/Grombacher LLP and Law Offices of Sahag Majarian II, and AT&T by Paul Hastings LLP.