Panera disclosed in its periodic filing on Form 10-Q (November 2011) that it agreed to a proposed settlement of the class-action lawsuits against Panera by plaintiffs Nick Sotoudeh and Gabriella Brizuela (filed in the California Superior Court, Contra Costa County), and plaintiff David Carter (filed in the California Superior Court, San Bernardino County). The suits claimed that Panera—that owns and franchises bakery cafes nationwide, and operates in the St. Louis area as St. Louis Bread Co.—failed to pay overtime, failed to provide meal and rest periods and termination compensation, and violated California's Unfair Competition Law.
The company has reserved $5 million for the proposed settlement, which is conditioned upon final approval by the California Superior Court.
It is unclear how many employees were not paid overtime compensation, but here is an example of one employee alleging she was not paid overtime:
"I've been working at Panera Bread since June of 2006. At the time I was hired, I was 16 years old, and turned 17 a month later, making me a minor for the entire time I was working there (excluding July 2007). Panera Bread has violated many California labor laws, such as not paying me overtime on the 7th day working, having me work more than four hours a day, working more than 40 hours during school, not providing lunch breaks or even those 10-minute breaks that are required for every four hours of work. I also haven't had a work permit since October of 2006 and I'm required to work past 10:00 p.m. on school nights. With all the research I've done, everything I've listed is illegal.
"Do I have a case? Better yet, is there any way to get them in trouble?"
READ MORE CALIFORNIA OVERTIME LEGAL NEWS
In the case of Panera, Susie should consider filing a class-action lawsuit, advises employment attorney Shaun Setareh. "There should be more than 25 former and current employees combined to file a class action," says Setareh. "With a class action, you will be protecting your own rights along with everyone else, and if you are the class representative, you qualify for class enhancement, which means that the court will most likely award you extra money when the case is settled."