Ocean City Today

Judge certifies class action lawsuit against Fat Daddy’s

By Brian Gilliland | Apr 20, 2017

(April 21, 2017) U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett last week conditionally certified a class action suit against the owners of Fat Daddy’s restaurants in Ocean City, alleging wage violations stemming from unpaid overtime at both resort locations.

The court will be issuing notices to workers employed at the restaurants between April 13, 2014 and April 13, 2017, allowing them to opt in to the case as part of the discovery phase. The lawsuit was filed in December.

The plaintiff, Brandon Ware, alleges that owners Edward and Lisa Braude implemented and enforced a policy of not paying overtime to employees who were regularly scheduled for more than 40 hours of work per week.

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides that, unless a business is exempt, eligible employees must receive overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in one workweek. There is an exemption for employees of seasonal businesses, although both Fat Daddy’s locations are open year-round. Restaurants were exempt from certain provisions of the Maryland Wage and Hour Law until July 2014.

Ware, according to the judge’s order, was employed at the uptown eatery at 8201 Coastal Highway from June to October 2016. The downtown restaurant is at 216 Baltimore Ave.

Ware alleges Edward Braude told him at his interview that “Fat Daddy’s did not pay overtime,” and that employees were required to work a set number of weekly hours that exceeded the standard 40.

The ruling states Ware provided affidavits and pay stubs revealing he was paid on an hourly basis even after working 40 hours per week and never received overtime compensation.

Ware said neither he, nor any other similarly situated employee, were paid overtime for the hours they worked in excess of 40 per week. According to the ruling, Ware provided documentation of conversations with two employees at the uptown store, along with two employees who worked at both locations, none of whom received overtime compensation.

He also provided evidence to the court that the restaurants shared resources and supplies, which, according to the court, unites the operations for a single business purpose — thus linking them for legal purposes.

The defense countered this argument, unsuccessfully, by asserting that Ware was only employed at the uptown restaurant and he failed to prove other employees were subjected to the same policy.

However, the judge ruled that because “similarly situated” is not necessarily the same thing as “identical.”

Edward Braude did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

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