CLARKSBURG – Retailer Dollar General settled four federal suits alleging it classified workers as managers in order to avoid paying them overtime.
Dollar General reached agreements with Tammy Audia, Anna Malcomb, Ronald Weaver and Patsy Helmick-Wooten, according to a joint motion of June 27.
The two sides urged District Judge Irene Keeley to keep the settlements confidential, asking her to read them in chambers or keep them under seal.
The secrecy can't hide Dollar General's advantage.
"Defendant asserts that its potential exposure in plaintiffs' individual claims is minimal, if any," the lawyers wrote.
"Defendant's position is based, among other things, on the fact that other federal courts have ruled that Dollar General store managers are exempt managerial employees whose primary duty is management, including ten such opinions in the past year alone," they wrote.
"Plaintiffs may get nothing if these cases were to proceed through trial," they wrote.
"Even if plaintiffs were to prevail at trial on the issue of liability, a process likely to consume several more months, their damages might not exceed the amount to which they have agreed to settle at this stage," they wrote.
Compromise appeared likely on June 3, when Keeley cancelled a June 21 hearing on qualifications of experts.
Neither side submitted briefs, she wrote.
Audia, Malcomb, Weaver, Helmick-Wooten and Thomas Brown sued Dollar General separately last year.
Keeley consolidated the cases for pretrial purposes, planning a first trial next January.
Brown dismissed his suit last November.
Michelle Massingale of Charlotte, N.C., and Thomas Dyer of Clarksburg represented Malcomb, Helmick-Wooten, Weaver and Audia.
Eric Iskra, of Spilman Thomas and Battle in Charleston, and Larissa Dean of the firm's Morgantown office represented Dollar General.
So did Ronald Manthey, Joel Allen and Rachel Morgan, all of Dallas.
Seth Harper, of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe in Morgantown, joined the defense team in March.