Roto-Rooter (Colquhoun)

On August 10, 2010, we filed a Statement of Claim with the American Arbitration Association on behalf of former Technicians and similarly- situated persons to recover unpaid wages. More than 80 current and former Roto-Rooter Technicians have joined this arbitration. The Statement of Claim alleges that Roto-Rooter did not pay the claimants’ wages free and clear, and unlawfully reduced their wages through paycheck deductions and requiring them to bear respondents’ business expenses. The claimants also allege that they regularly worked unrecorded time of which the respondents were aware and encouraged through their policies and practices. The claimants seek to recover unpaid minimum and overtime wages and the illegal deductions and business expenses they were required to bear. This case is similar to the Morangelli case which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The primary difference between the cases is that Technicians who signed a valid arbitration agreement are forced to bring their claims in arbitration. Those Technicians who did not sign a valid arbitration agreement remain in the federal case. If you are or were a Technician who worked for Roto-Rooter in the past three years, you may be able to bring your claim for back wages in this or the Morangelli case.

Status Reports

Court Grants Final Approval of Parties’ Settlement Agreement – Posted 1/9/14

On January 6, 2014, the Court held a final fairness hearing after which the Court granted final approval of the parties’ Settlement Agreement. The Court found that the Settlement Agreement, under which Roto-Rooter will pay more than $14.2 million to resolve the claims of more than 4,200 class members, was fair, reasonable and adequate. The Court adopted the Settlement Agreement provision requiring settlement checks to be mailed within 43 days of the Court’s Order so long as the Order is not appealed. As no objections were raised to the settlement, we do not anticipate any appeals. Plaintiffs will have 120 days from the date the checks are sent out to cash their checks. Unless you have updated your address with the Claims Administrator or us, your settlement check will be sent to the same address as your notice. To update your address, contact the Claims Administrator, Simpluris, at 877-645-1928.

Court Grants Preliminary Approval

The Court has granted preliminary approval of the class settlement. Click here to read the Preliminary Approval Order of Class Settlement. Class members will receive a notice of the settlement in the mail in mid-October.

Plaintiffs File Motion for Preliminary Approval

On September 13, Plaintiffs filed the Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. We now await the Court’s approval. If the Court preliminarily approves the settlement, we will be able to send a notice to each class member, which includes the terms of the settlement, the amount of their minimum individual recovery, and allows for the opportunity to opt out of or object to the settlement.

IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE MONEY UNDER THE SETTLEMENT, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING. If the Court approves the settlement, a check will be mailed to every class member who does not opt out of the settlement.

After the 30-day notice period has passed, Plaintiffs will ask the Court for final approval of the settlement. If the Court approves the settlement and there are no appeals, checks will be mailed to class members. The settlement process can take some time, and we do not expect checks to be mailed until the second quarter of 2014.

If your address has changed and you have not updated your contact information with us, please email your new contact information to mayres@getmansweeney.com.

We will continue to post updates to the website as the information is available.

The Parties Have Reached a Settlement

After more than three years of litigation, the parties have tentatively settled the claims in this case. Getman & Sweeney believes the settlement is fair and reasonable, considering the various risks that would exist if the claims went to trial.. Under the terms of the settlement, Roto-Rooter will pay approximately $14.2 million to resolve the claims of approximately 4,000 class members. The payment includes back pay for overtime, minimum wages, liquidated damages and all costs of the litigation including attorneys’ fees and service payments to class representatives.

The case now moves from a litigation process to a settlement process, which, though quicker than litigation, still takes time. The Court has ordered the parties to put the terms of the settlement in a formal written agreement and ordered the Plaintiffs to present the agreement to the Court for preliminary approval by August 23, 2013. If the Court preliminarily approves the settlement, notice will be mailed to all class members explaining the terms of the settlement, providing class members with notice of their minimum individual recovery, and giving them the opportunity to comment on the settlement. After the period for commenting has past, Plaintiffs will ask the Court for final approval. If the Court finally approves the settlement and the settlement becomes final, checks will be mailed out shortly thereafter. We expect the entire process to take at least nine months, that is, checks would not likely be mailed until at least April 2014.

Because there are several steps in the settlement process, there is much we do not know at this time:
We do not know anyone’s individual recovery at this time. After the Court issues preliminary approval of the settlement, we will make the final damage calculation and notice stating individual recoveries will be mailed to all class members.

We do not know when notice will be mailed. Those details depend on factors outside of the parties’ control. For example, notice cannot be sent until the Court preliminarily approves the settlement. While Plaintiffs expect to file a motion for preliminary approval on August 23, we do not know how long the Court will take to rule on it.

We do not know if or when settlement checks will be mailed. Checks will be mailed only if the Court finally approves the settlement. We cannot know at this time if and when that will happen.
It is vitally important that you notify us if your contact information has changed in the past three years. Please e-mail any changes to us through this website http://getmansweeney.com/contact.
We need current contact information so that you receive notice and your settlement payment.

WE WILL POST UPDATES ON THIS WEBSITE AS THE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE

Posted on December 1, 2011

Because the federal court will decide the legal issues in this arbitration case in the related Morangelli v. Roto-Rooter case, the parties have agreed to stay this case rather than litigate the same issues in two different places.  Once the federal court decides the legal issues, this arbitration will go forward.  For an update on the Morangelli case, go to http://getmansweeney.com/current-cases/roto-rooter-morangelli

.

Posted on Wednesday, May 4 2011 at 4:40pm

There are currently more than 80 current and former Technicians from 19 different states who have sought to bring their claims in this arbitration. We recently requested to have this case arbitrated on a class basis, which would allow us to recover damages for many more people. Click here to see the request to the arbitrator (.pdf 185KB). We await her decision.

Posted on Wednesday, May 4 2011 at 4:40pm

Answers to Common Questions:

What claims are covered in this arbitration?

The arbitration covers claims for overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and under the labor laws of certain states. The specific violations claimed are that the Defendants failed to pay minimum and overtime wages to its Service Technicians and made illegal deductions from their pay. Click here to review the statement of claim.

What damages are sought?

Damages sought under the FLSA include back minimum and overtime wages, an equal amount of liquidated damages, interest, and fees and costs for each violation. Damages for the state law claims include back minimum wage and overtime pay, recovery of illegal deductions, liquidated damages, interest, and fees and costs. What is the difference between the FLSA and State Labor Law claims? Both claims are based on the same facts—the way Roto-Rooter paid Technicians. But damages and the statute of limitations are different under the FLSA and some states’ labor laws. The FLSA provides for liquidated damages in an amount equal to the back pay owed and allows claims going back three years from when someone affirmatively joins the case by filing a Consent to Arbitrate. You must send us a signed Consent to Arbitrate to bring claims in this action. State labor laws vary, but they generally provide for back wages and interest. Many states also provide for some liquidated damages. Moreover, the state law claims have different statutes of limitations (For example, California is four years, New York is six years, and New Jersey is two years).

How far back can claims be made?

Under the FLSA, you are entitled to make claims for the period extending back three years from the date your Consent To Arbitrate Form is filed in the Arbitration. Roto Rooter will be entitled to argue that its violations were not willful and that its claims should only be limited to a two-year period preceding the filing of your Consent to Arbitrate. This two or three year period is called the “statute of limitation.” The state law claims have different statutes of limitations (For example, California is four years, New York is six years, and New Jersey is two years).

Can the Defendants fire me or take action against me for joining the arbitration?

The law prohibits retaliation for joining an overtime lawsuit. If any employee suffers retaliation, Roto- Rooter would be liable for at least double the injury caused to the employee, and possibly much more. Further, the Judge in the related Morangelli case has said that he would consider criminal prosecution for acts of retaliation. Notify us immediately if you think any retaliation occurs. Retaliation is rare in overtime cases, because an employer can suffer such serious penalties.

What locations are covered by this lawsuit?

The FLSA claims in this lawsuit cover every worksite nationwide in the U.S.A. If you worked for Defendants anywhere in the country, you can bring FLSA claims in this case. State Labor Law covers only work in that state.

Request for Information

* indicates required field