Applebee’s workers who sued their employer for unpaid wages got good news this week: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has agreed to hear their case. The appellate court will decide whether a lower court erred in denying class-action status to the workers. That means that their case lives on.
The case, Roach v. T.L. Cannon Corp., has national implications for workers and consumers and is being closely watched in the legal community. Public Citizen is representing the workers.
Public Citizen petitioned the Second Circuit in April, contending that a federal district court in New York was wrong to tell the Applebee’s workers that their lawsuit for unpaid wages could not be heard as a class action. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York denied class certification after incorrectly interpreting the March 27 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Comcast v. Behrend, we maintain.
The outcome of the New York case has national implications for a wide array of pending class-action cases across the country that are being challenged in the wake of the Comcast decision. If the lower court decision stands, and the workers are not permitted to band together to seek back wages that were illegally withheld by their employer, then wage-and-hour laws and other protections for workers and consumers could become prohibitively difficult to enforce.