On January 22, 2015, Ramona Brown sued Lambert’s Café, III, Inc. in Foley, Alabama for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. You may know Lambert’s as “the only home of throwed rolls” — where servers actually throw dinner rolls to customers. Ms. Brown claimed that she and other servers at the restaurant were not properly paid for time they were required to work. A review of court records indicates that the parties entered into settlement negotiations relatively early in the process.
On September 24, 2015, the court approved a settlement under which Lambert’s paid $38,000.00, which was split among five employees. Because those employees were “prevailing parties,” their attorneys were entitled to payment of attorneys’ fees. But, the parties could not agree on the amount of a “reasonable” fee.
So, on January 27, 2016, Magistrate Judge William E. Cassady of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama entered an order awarding the employees’ attorneys $41,943.15 in fees and costs. Notably, the employees’ attorneys submitted hours and billable rates to the Court which could have totaled more than $60,000.00 in fees. Thus, the Lambert’s case demonstrates that the costs of violating the FLSA can easily skyrocket — not only from damages to employees, but also to pay their attorneys.