Lawsuit alleging Vail Resorts labor violations should proceed in all 9 states, say employees’ attorneys
Attorneys representing Vail Resorts employees who claim the company has systematically violated federal and state labor laws are arguing that their proposed class action lawsuit should proceed. Not only under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, but under the labor laws of Colorado and eight other states where the company operates its ski resorts.
Vail Resorts has argued that all claims outside of Colorado or the Fair Labor Standards Act should be dismissed.
The pending lawsuit was filed Dec. 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on behalf of Randy Dean Quint, John Linn, and Mark Molina, who are current or former employees at Beaver Creek Resort.
The lawsuit alleges Vail Resorts has for years failed to pay Quint, Linn and Molina and thousands of other seasonal employees, including ski and snowboard instructors, ticket scanners and lift operators, to varying degrees, for their entire shifts, for “off the clock” work the company requires or accepts, for overtime, for training, or for the use, purchase or maintenance of ski and snowboard equipment and cellphones the company requires workers to have.
California-based attorneys Edward P. Dietrich and Benjamin Galdston filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three employees. They have declined to comment on the case.
The lawsuit seeks collective action status under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class action status under the wage and labor laws of Colorado and eight other states: California, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. It preliminarily estimates damages at $100 million to $150 million.
Twelve other people have also since signed consent forms with Dietrich and Galdston to opt into the lawsuit against the company, all alleging to have worked for Vail Resorts and alleging they, too, were not properly paid for all time worked or for overtime or expenses, according to court records.
In February, Vail Resorts filed its first reply to the lawsuit, a motion for partial dismissal. The company has not responded to requests for comment.
The company, which operates 34 ski resorts in North America, in its motion argued that Quint, Linn and Molina and the then-10 other people who have consented to join the lawsuit lack standing to pursue state labor law claims on behalf of themselves or other employees of Vail Resorts, arguing that all of the state labor law claims outside Colorado should be dismissed.
“By their own allegations, plaintiffs never worked in those states, and have not established they were otherwise subject to the laws of those states,” states the company’s motion, filed by the law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. “As several cases from this district hold, plaintiffs have no injury under the laws of those states and lack standing to assert claims under those laws on behalf of themselves or a putative class.”
“Vail (Resorts) is wrong,” Dietrich and Galdston argue in their response to the company’s motion, filed last Friday. The attorneys cite several appellate court cases, “which Vail ignores,” arguing those higher court rulings “make clear that named plaintiffs do not have to live or work in a state have standing to assert state law claims on behalf of absent class members who live in those states.”
Additionally, a federal court can assert “supplemental jurisdiction” over state law claims the court would not otherwise have subject matter jurisdiction to hear, so long as the claims are all part of the same case or controversy as the claim over which the court has original jurisdiction. “Here the complaint alleges that all state law claims arise from the same Vail policies and practices and are part of the same case,” the response states.
According to a March 25 scheduling order prepared for the case, Vail Resorts has until April 23 to reply again in support of its motion for a partial dismissal of the lawsuit’s claims in states outside of Colorado.
Meanwhile, the parties in coming weeks are also expected to start filing motions for or against requiring Vail Resorts to provide employee contact information for the attorneys to start sending notices of a conditional collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, though any potential class action would still have to be certified by the court.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at email@example.com.