The settlement in our class action against J. Jill the Store (Balogh v. The Birch Pond Group, Inc.) has been given final approval by Riverside County Superior Court Commissioner Joan F. Burgess. The case involved the wardrobing and employee break policies of The Birch Pond Group's J. Jill The Store retail clothing stores in California from July 1999 to July 2003. Several hundred current and former hourly workers at J. Jill the Store's retail stores in Calfornia will share in approximately $287,000 in cash and merchandise as part of a settlement involving claims that they were required to purchase J. Jill clothing as a condition of employment, and that some workers were denied meal and rest periods.
The lawsuit was filed by a former sales associate and former assistant manager at J. Jill's Palm Desert store. On April 15, 2005, the settlement was given preliminary approval by Riverside County Superior Court Roger Leubs. Final approval was given at the court's final fairness hearing by Commissioner Joan F. Burgess on October 12, 2005.
To settle the wardrobing claims, full-time employees were compensated with J. Jill gift cards worth $150, plus $35 per full month of employment, beginning with the third month of employment during the relevant period. Part-time employees received gift cards worth $150, plus $20 per full month of employment, beginning with the third month of employment during the relevant period. The gift cards are good for the purchase of any merchandise available to the general public, including sale or clearance items, but may not be used: in conjunction with employee discounts, at J. Jill outlet store or on Amazon.com. They also may not be used to pay any J. Jill credit card account. Employees were given the option of accepting cash equivalent to 50% of their gross gift card allowance. To settle the meal and rest period claims, employees were paid up to $21 per month of employment. Checks and gift cards will be mailed to class members no later than November 4, 2005.
Under California Labor Code § 226.7 and Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 7, retail store employees are entitled to a paid ten-minute break for every four hours of work, or major fraction thereof. Employees working at least 3½ hours are entitled to one paid break, and earn a second paid break after six hours. Furthermore, employees who work more than five hour shifts are entitled to a 30 minute break which need not be paid. Under California Labor Code § 450 and Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order 7, employers are required to pay for the cost of purchasing and maintaining employee uniforms and may not require employees to purchase anything of value, including uniforms or clothing of a particular style or maker, from the company.