Fast-food restaurant chain Panda Express LLC has reached a $2,975,000 settlement with a nationwide class of restaurant managers who claimed the chain violated labor laws by failing to pay the managers overtime.
The wage theft lawsuit was filed in 2009 by a former Panda Express general manager, Khan Kudo, on behalf of all similarly situated general managers. The lawsuit alleged that Panda Express improperly classified managers as exempt from overtime and therefore violated the FLSA by not paying its general managers overtime compensation at the rate of time and one-half for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.
According to the lawsuit, Kudo worked for Panda Express for 10 years at least 50 hours per week. He would spend at least 80 percent of his working hours performing non-managerial activities such as: preparing food, taking and filling customers’ orders, taking inventory, receiving customers’ payments for their food and removing trash and cleaning. Kudo claimed he was permitted little to no discretion in his duties because the restaurant’s corporate management controlled almost every aspect of the restaurant’s day to day operations including, store hours, store layout, hiring and firing, scheduling employees, store budgets, among others.
The proposed settlement will compensate 155 current and former Panda Express managers. The settlement agreement is subject to approval of Judge Seibel, a federal court judge in White Plains, New York.