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Discovery of Defendants’ Alleged “Virtual Private Network” Leads to Class Action Settlement of $920,741.42

stratfs logoJones v. Strategic Financial Solutions L.L.C., and Pioneer Law Firm, P.C., d/b/a The Law Offices of John Dougherty and Associates, and Timberline Capital Ventures, Inc., and Harbor Legal Group, L.L.C., d/b/a The Law Offices of G. Anthony Yuthas, and Credit Advocates Law Firm, LLC, Case No: 16-cv-04617

$920,741.42 – Class Action for Improper Payment of Overtime – In this matter, the Firm represented a class of 133 “negotiators” against their employer – an enterprise made up of five legally distinct entities which provide debt settlement and consolidation services for consumers. The action commenced on June 27, 2016, when Lead Plaintiff Ms. Jones filed a complaint asserting Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) claims for unpaid overtime and other statutory damages and alleging that her coworkers were similarly situated. Accordingly, on December 13, 2016, United States District Judge Laura Taylor Swain granted the Parties’ joint motion to conditionally certify the action, permitting Plaintiffs to notify current and former employees who worked for Defendants with similar job duties to consent to file a claim to recover damages for overtime compensation legally due to them. Between February 1, 2017, and April 25, 2017, sixteen opt-in Plaintiffs filed consents to join the action. Thereafter, the parties conducted extensive discovery which led to the production of thousands of documents and electronically stored information, including the revelation of what Plaintiffs alleged, was Defendants’ Virtual Private Network – which Plaintiffs claimed allowed them to work remotely outside of Defendants’ office. From this exchange of discovery and based upon sworn testimonies, Plaintiffs contended that Defendants’ negotiators were incorrectly classified as “exempt,” and as a result, they were not paid overtime compensation for hours worked over forty each week. In Plaintiffs’ view, discovery also displayed that Defendants provided their negotiators with wage notices in a format that failed to satisfy the NYLL’s requirements. On November 8, 2017, the Parties engaged in a lengthy mediation, which concluded in an agreement to settle the alleged claims of the putative class, for the total amount of $900,000.000. Following mediation, notice was sent eligible class members informing of the class action settlement. After alternative calculations were computed to include the recovery damages legally due to additional class members, the settlement fund was adjusted to $920,741.42. Subsequently, the Court ordered that the terms and provisions of the settlement agreement were fully and finally approved as fair, reasonable, and adequate. On June 12, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn granted the motion for final approval of the class and collective action settlement in the amount of $920,741.42. Michael J. Borrelli, Alexander T. Coleman, and Michael R. Minkoff handled the matter on behalf of the Firm.


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