Dechert Settles Suit Claiming It Authorized Administrative Staffers to Forgo Meal Breaks
Posted Jan 25, 2011 6:47 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Dechert has agreed to pay $429,000 to settle a class action claiming it required or allowed non-exempt staffers to sign waivers so they could work through meal breaks.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued the waivers were "irrefutable evidence" that Dechert had authorized the employees to work through meal periods mandated by state statutes, the Recorder reports.
"As a large law firm, defendant is capable of maintaining staffing level sufficient to permit its non-exempt employees to take 20-minute uninterrupted meal periods," the suit said. A San Francisco judge approved the settlement on Monday.
The suit was filed by a fired administrative assistant in Palo Alto, Calif., who had worked at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, the Recorder story says. The Oppenheimer Wolff office closed in 2003 after 28 of its lawyers jumped to Dechert, according to a story published at the time by the Lawyer.