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Petco to Pay $1.3 Million to Settle Groomers’ Timesheet Dispute

April 16, 2021, 2:58 PM

Petco and a group of former employees settled allegations that the company altered timesheets to reduce their pay, according to an order in federal district court in New York.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York finalized the settlement and dismissed the former employees’ claims with prejudice Thursday. Petco Animal Supplies Inc. will pay $1.3 million, with about $977,000 going to class members as compensation.

The plaintiffs were groomers at Petco stores in New York, Florida, Idaho, California, Montana, and Illinois. They alleged the company altered the number of hours they worked by adding a daily lunch break, regardless of whether the employees took one or entered one in their records, the complaint said.

The company “established and enforced” a policy of altering records with the intention of limiting groomers’ paid work hours to 40 per week, the complaint said.

The groomers who were part of the complaint and worked in states other than New York or California decided to withdraw their claims to avoid protracted legal arguments about jurisdiction and venue, according to a brief filed by the plaintiffs.

The certified settlement class includes groomers who worked for Petco stores in New York between 2013 and 2019, and California Petco stores between 2016 and 2019.

The company denies it violated any applicable law and said it paid its groomers for all hours worked, the brief said.

The court found the agreement to be “fair, just, reasonable and adequate to, and in the best interest of, the settlement class.”

The plaintiffs brought their complaint under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as state labor laws.

The court approved the class counsel’s request for $267,000 in fees and expenses.

Judge Robert M. Levy finalized the settlement.

The Employment Rights Group LLC and Chivers LLP represented the plaintiffs. Littler Mendelson PC represented Petco.

The case is Gatto v. Petco Animal Supplies Inc., E.D.N.Y., No. 1:19-cv-3394, 4/15/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington at scarignan@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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