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Wage-and-hour suit against Papa John’s franchisee certified as class action

LOS ANGELES Class-action certification has been granted in a wage-and-hour lawsuit involving potentially 900 former workers for a Papa John’s Pizza franchisee in Los Angeles County.

The U.S. District Court for Central California here last week granted class-action status to the case, which was filed against franchisee PJ United, based in Birmingham, Ala., and its subsidiary holding company PJ Cheese, which operated 14 Papa John’s units in Los Angeles County. The units, however, were sold in 2005 and PJ United no longer operates Papa John’s restaurants in California.

The plaintiffs charge that the franchisee misclassified workers as “store managers” to circumvent state employment laws that require meal breaks, rest breaks and overtime pay. The suit also alleges that delivery drivers and other employees were denied meal and rest periods.

To earn exemption as a manager under state wage and hour laws, employees must spend a certain amount of time in a supervisory position during their workday. The suit charges PJ Cheese with giving workers the title “manager” without meeting that criterion. Attorneys for PJ United, however, contend the employees were legitimately managers who qualified for exempt status.

 Louisville, Ky.-based franchisor Papa John’s USA International was included in the original lawsuit filing, but the brand parent is not named as a defendant in the class action.

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