No class to overtime suit, Claim Jumper says

The parent of the Claim Jumper restaurant chain said it would ask a court to reverse the certification of an employee lawsuit as a class action because most of the assistant kitchen managers included as co-plaintiffs don't want to take part. The company, CWN Management, also asserted that it might sue the attorneys of the individual who initially filed the overtime-pay lawsuit. CWN said it might take action if it determined that the lawyers lied about the concern.

The suit alleges that Claim Jumper's assistant managers should be entitled to overtime wages because their duties are largely non-managerial, and hence not exempt from regulations mandating time-and-a-half pay for hours exceeding 40 a week. The complaint was filed by one assistant manager, but the Orange County Superior Court broadened the scope to a class action.

According to CWN, 48 of the chain's kitchen managers have explicitly stated that they have no interest in participating in the suit, and one-third of the persons employed at that level have testified under oath that they spend more than 50% of their time engaged in managerial duties.

"I attended the hearting where the court certified a class, and I could not have been more shocked by the ruling," said Bill Hustedt, Claim Jumper's CFO. "The court ignored that the overwhelming majority of our assistant kitchen managers testified under oath that they had no interest in participating in the lawsuit."

Claim Jumper is a recent addition to the long list of restaurant chains that have been sued in California by unit-level management employees looking to collect overtime pay. The U.S. Department of Justice recently overhauled the federal regulations to avert the confusion that has given rise to similar suits elsewhere, but California's laws supercede those guidelines.

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