A federal court in Tennessee’s ruling on attorney’s fees should be of concern to anyone who wishes to bring a wage and hour lawsuit. In Stewart v. CUS Nashville, LLC, Judge Trauger of the Middle District of Tennessee found that since the named plaintiff did not succeed in proving all of her claims, her attorneys should receive just 30% of their requested fees.
The case began in 2011, when plaintiff Misty Blu Stewart filed a complaint on behalf of herself and similarly situated employees, both past and current, of the “Coyote Ugly Saloons” nationwide. She claimed that waitresses and bartenders, as a matter of company policy and in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), were forced to share their tip pool with security guards, and also to work off of the clock without compensation. The defendants responded by filing a motion to dismiss the tip pool claims, stating that security guards met the standard of being employees who customarily received tips, and could therefore share in the tip pool.
The case eventually went to trial in April 2013 after an extensive period, during which the court certified a national class of plaintiffs for the tip pool claims and a Tennessee-based class of plaintiffs for the off-the-clock claims. Stewart also filed an amended complaint that added three retaliation claims under the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision to the existing claims. Continue reading →