Court Conditionally Certifies Nationwide Class of Ruby Tuesday Employees

On June 11, 2013, a Southern District of New York judge conditionally certified a class of Ruby Tuesday employees.  Plaintiffs filed the complaint as a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as under New York and Florida state labor laws.  The complaint alleges that Ruby Tuesday has a nationwide policy whereby its bartenders, servers, and food runners are not permitted to enter some of the time they worked into defendant’s time-keeping system.  Plaintiffs allege that defendants have a company-wide labor scheduling system and guidelines that prohibit employees from working overtime and that headquarters carefully monitors employees’ hours.  As a result, employees are forced to work before and after their recorded shifts (“off the clock”) in order to complete all their required tasks.

Judge Baer held that plaintiffs’ proposed class met the factual burden necessary to support conditionally certifying the class.  Plaintiffs demonstrated that Ruby Tuesday maintains uniform job descriptions for its servers, bartenders, and food runners and a uniform task checklist for these employees.  It was significant to the court that Ruby Tuesday also has a companywide policy of prohibiting overtime work as well a centralized timekeeping system which allows Ruby Tuesday to track each restaurant’s overtime record.  Ruby Tuesday also has a uniform bonus policy which applies to all restaurant managers that considers the restaurant’s labor costs.  Plaintiffs also demonstrated through declarations and depositions of plaintiffs and opt-in plaintiffs that the practice of “off the clock” work occurred in 8 different restaurants located in 4 different states.

Ruby Tuesday argued that plaintiffs’ proposed class was too large and diverse because defendant employed 115,009 individuals in 710 restaurants in 39 states during the proposed class period.  The court rejected this argument by pointing to (1) plaintiffs’ declarations and depositions demonstrating that this practice occurred in 8 store locations in 4 states, (2) by the evidence that supports plaintiffs’ claim that Ruby Tuesday had a nationwide policy that is reticent to pay its employees overtime and (3) a centralized staffing and labor budget management system.

Abbey Spanier, LLP, located in New York City, is a well-recognized national class action and complex litigation law firm.