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Wednesday, 31 July 2013 23:53

Texas Court Orders Settlement Conference in Fair Labor Standards Case Against Safelite

A judge for the U.S. Northern District of Texas, Dallas division, has ordered that a face-to-face conference between plaintiff David Trent and Safelite be held this month to discuss a possible settlement to allegations that Safelite violated Fair Labor Standards (FLSA) by not compensating for overtime.

"Individual parties and their counsel shall participate in person, not by telephone or other remote means," orders U.S. District Judge Reed O'Conner in court documents. "All other parties shall participate by a representative or representatives, in addition to counsel, who shall have unlimited settlement authority and who shall participate in person, not by telephone or other remote means.

"If a party has liability insurance coverage as to any claim made against that party in this case, a representative of each insurance company providing such coverage, who shall have full authority to offer policy limits in settlement, shall be present at and participate in the meeting in person," he continues.

Within seven days of the conference the parties must "jointly prepare and file a written report, who was present and whether "meaningful progress toward settlement was made, and a statement regarding the prospects of a settlement," the judge writes.

Trent filed a class action complaint against Safelite earlier this year, specifically listing times when he alleges he worked through his lunch break but was not compensated.

He worked as an auto glass repair technician specialist at one of Safelite's Dallas/Fort Worth-area locations from June 9, 2004 to October 12, 2012.

In a response to Trent's complaint, Safelite denies the plaintiff has any basis for the complaint. The company's attorneys write in court documents, "This case is not appropriate for a collective action because the plaintiff is not similarly situated to other members of the purported class."

In the initial complaint, Trent's attorneys listed all qualifying class members as "All auto glass repair or installation technicians who worked for the defendant within the last three years who were classified as non-exempt employees, who, as a result of working through their lunch periods, worked in excess of 40 hours in one or more workweeks and were not compensated at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in one or more workweeks."

Safelite's attorneys respond by asserting that, "Plaintiff and any members of the putative class were properly compensated for all hours worked and for any hours worked over 40 in a work week."

The judge has not yet ruled on the proposed class action or on Safelite's request for dismissal.

The judge ordered the parties meet for a settlement conference and also set a deadline for any parties joining the lawsuit or making amendments to the pleadings as July 30, 2013.

Judge O'Conner writes that a pretrial conference will be set "if necessary," and scheduled a trial date for July 28, 2014.
He also ordered that "the parties jointly select a mediator and mediate on or before January 29, 2014."

"Within seven days after the mediation, the parties shall jointly prepare and file a written report, which shall be signed by counsel for each party detailing the date on which the mediation was held, the persons present (including the capacity of any representative), and a statement informing the court of the effect of their mediation and whether this case has been settled by agreement of the parties," the judge wrote.

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