University, BuDS workers agree to $620,000 settlement

The University plans to pay $620,000 distributed among more than 100 student Dining Services workers and their lawyers to settle a class action lawsuit over disputed pay.

The preliminary approval of the settlement was filed Oct. 2 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

The student plaintiffs alleged that the University failed to appropriately compensate them for their work in violation of the Rhode Island Payment of Wages Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Students first filed a complaint about unpaid work to Dining Services and Human Resources about one year ago.

In its current form, the settlement distributes $450,000 to over 100 current and former student employees, including named plaintiffs Maxwell Kozlov ’20 and Benjamin Bosis ’19, while the remaining funds will be distributed to their lawyers, according to the preliminary agreement.

Each eligible person’s settlement amount “is based on the number of (their) scheduled on-call hours” worked during the almost three year period between Jan. 24, 2016, and Oct. 18, 2018, with a minimum settlement amount of $200. The highest settlement amount totals $24,512 for more than 4,400 total on-call hours worked.

Students eligible for the funds must have worked as student Unit Managers, Assistant Unit Managers or Supervisors in the Cashiers, Carts or Blue Room units in the three year time period. These units included weekly “on-call” shifts, for which the plaintiffs alleged they were not properly compensated. The “on-call” shifts no longer exist in the same form.

The settlement agreement may change as it awaits final approval. Potential plaintiffs have a 180-day opt-in period, which begins after they are notified of the proposed settlement. The parties must meet a number of other conditions, including a requirement that Kozlov “immediately and formally withdraw his complaint” at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. He will also be “solely responsible for payment of any fees … imposed or assessed by the DLT.”

In a draft of a joint statement between the plaintiffs and the defendant, they state that they have “amicably resolved” the pending legal action. “Brown believes the legal actions have no merit, while the students maintain they were not appropriately compensated for the full extent of work performed, including on-call time,” according to the statement. Neither party may communicate publicly about the settlement.

The parties decided to settle to eliminate the emotional cost and financial expense of an ongoing lawsuit. The University “denies any wrongdoing or any violation of federal or state law as alleged in the Action and maintains that at all times it acted reasonably and in good faith,” the statement read.

“Student workers will remain an essential part of dining operations at Brown. For those students who seek campus employment, Brown remains committed to ensuring experiences that enable students to effectively balance their academic study and other activities with their employment,” according to the statement.

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