Chanel Fights Class Action Bid in Overtime Wages Lawsuit

Chanel is fighting back against a lawsuit filed by a group of employees at its Beverly Hills store. According to the suit, which was filed in December 2015 by shipping department employees Cristian Luna, Anthony Hernandez and Javier Delgado, Chanel failed to pay them and others overtime compensation and minimum wage for overtime hours worked in violation of both federal and state law. The case was initially filed in California state court but was removed to federal court late last year.

In particular, the plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that Chanel has systematically failed to pay its employees overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and California law; Mr. Luna claims he was forced to work overtime during the entirety of his tenure with Chanel, which began in 2011. The named plaintiffs also allege that Chanel failed to authorize/permit rest periods; failed to pay wages upon discharge; and failed to maintain accurate payroll records, amongst other claims. As a result, in addition to damages for unpaid wages, penalties and other general and exemplary damages, the plaintiffs would like the court to certify class action status for the lawsuit, thereby allowing other similarly situated Chanel employees and former employees to join the suit, as well.

Class action status – which requires certification by the court – would serve to significantly increase the size of the pool of plaintiffs in the case (allowing “similarly situated” employees from all over the country to join) and thus, the damages amount for which Chanel would be responsible. It would also theoretically allow more plaintiffs to seek recourse against Chanel than would otherwise be possible by way of individual lawsuits.

Well, as if this week, Chanel is fighting to have the plaintiffs’ bid for class action status shot down. On the heels of filing its discovery plan for the impending trial, counsel for the Paris-based design house urged a California federal court to block the plaintiffs’ potential class action certification, alleging that the evidence they provided (and the fact that they were forced to work overtime in the first place) does not amount to anything more than proof that they’re incapable of fulfilling their job duties. Moreover, Chanel asserted that nationwide class certification is improper as the cases at hand are too individualized and the individual plaintiffs’ claims are not backed up by similar claims from employees at other stores. More to come …