Former employees of Rivers Casino Schenectady have won a more than $5 million class-action lawsuit against Rush Street Gaming, LLC, the company that runs the casino.
The group of more than 100 employees in the lawsuit was led by Kendra Brown, a former server at the casino who said the casino paid her and her colleagues less than state law required. U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd signed off on the settlement.
“Brown’s unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the class action settlement is granted,” Hurd wrote. “The Court finds, on a preliminary basis, that the settlement memorialized in the parties’ Settlement Agreement and filed with the Court…falls within the range of reasonableness.”
In other words, the employees won the case and, at some point, will be paid by Rush Street Gaming. The exact dollar amount of the payout will be determined at a later date.
Rivers Casino shorted employees’ overtime pay
The lawsuit came about because Brown claimed that the casino did not give her and other employees the correct amount of overtime pay during her time as a server from April 2017 to December 2019.
Per New York law, employers can take a tip credit to offset part of the state’s minimum wage. For example, in 2022, the minimum wage in New York is $13.20 per hour. Employers can take a tip credit of $2.20. That leaves them responsible to pay for $11.00 of an employee’s hourly wage.
However, if an employee works overtime, the rules change slightly. Employers must pay employees 1.5 times the pay if an employee works more than 40 hours a week. That 1.5 times multiplier is applied to the full minimum wage, not the minimum wage minus the tip credit.
And this, Brown claimed, is where Rivers Casino Schenectady screwed up. The casino, she claimed, gave employees overtime pay based on the tip-credit wage of $11.00 (also known as the “sub-minimum wage”), not the full minimum wage of $13.20 per hour.
“Defendants calculated the overtime rate by multiplying one and one-half times the subminimum direct cash wage being earned,” court documents obtained by PlayUSA said. “As a result, Plaintiff’s and other similarly situated employees’ overtime pay was not based on the proper regular rate of pay, and thus they were paid a lower rate for overtime hours that the amount required under New York law.”
Casino also failed to provide proper pay information
In addition to not paying its employees what state law required, the casino also failed to provide the proper pay information, the lawsuit claimed.
According to court documents, the casino failed to provide required written notice about the following three aspects of employees’ pay:
- Amount of tip credit the casino was taking from hourly pay
- Casino’s responsibility to give the employees extra pay up to minimum wage if the employee’s tips don’t bring them up to minimum wage
- Correct overtime pay rate
Settlement process will take place over the next few months
The judge’s finding is a win for Brown and her fellow employees. However, the case is far from over.
During the next few months, several things have to take place:
- The two parties must choose a settlement administrator
- Administrator has to send out settlement notices to affected employees
- Employees have up to 45 days from the day the administrator sends a settlement notice to opt out of the settlement
- Rivers Casino has 45 days after the settlement notices are sent out to submit a written objection to the settlement
The process culminates on Jan. 19, 2023. At that time, the court will do a final approval hearing. At the hearing, the court will “determine the overall fairness of the settlement,” according to court documents.
Once the court decides on a settlement amount, Brown has until February 16 to approve the settlement.