Questions persist, answers hard to find for Vail Resorts employees considering opting out in class action settlement
Opt out forms must be postmarked by May 6
Members of the class of 100,000-or-so employees who have settlement offers pending from Vail Resorts currently have a few options. But if you have questions surrounding those options, answers might not be so easy to find, says one member of the class. And time is running out.
Vail Resorts in March began the process of making offers to employees to settle allegations made in the Hamilton v. Heavenly Valley lawsuit, which claims Vail Resorts has been failing to pay reimbursements for equipment, failing to compensate for staff time spent training or in meetings and failing to pay for time spent in getting on-mountain workers to their posts, among other allegations.
Accepting the offer means losing the ability to be involved in any other legal action against Vail Resorts for wage and labor disputes. Opting out of the settlement means retaining the right to join cases against Vail Resorts alleging labor law violations, like the already existing Quint et al. v. Vail Resorts case, which is on pause after a federal judge granted a motion filed by Vail Resorts while the settlement in Hamilton v. Heavenly Valley is worked out.
Settlement amounts in Hamilton v. Heavenly Valley case vary from nominal offers for employees who started with the company in the 2016-17 season or later, to $10,000 for each of the six named plaintiffs, to $50,000 for one named plaintiff in particular, who is also alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation.
The domain owner taking credit for ResortSettlementOptOut.com, self-identified on the site as “an hourly employee from a Vail resort in California,” also stated on the site that they are fearing retaliation, as well.
ResortSettlementOptOut.com was set up to let employees know how they can go about opting out, as no opt-out link is offered on the “exclude yourself” section of ResortSettlement.com, the website set up by the plaintiff’s attorneys to notify them of the settlement opportunity.
“The settlement notice omits the fact that you may have another option if you opt-out,” ResortSettlementOptOut.com states. “You might be able to join a case (Quint v. Vail) that is pending in a Federal Court in Colorado where Vail Resorts is headquartered.”
ResortSettlementOptOut.com calls the settlement offers for non-named plaintiffs “pennies on the dollar.” One offer shared with the Vail Daily was indeed that — a former part-time ski school employee was offered $0.18.
Following the Sunday, April 17 publication of the ResortSettlementOptOut.com website and the April 18 Vail Daily story about the site, the Vail Daily was contacted by a member of the Hamilton v. Heavenly Valley class who said simple questions which have been sent to the attorneys representing the class have gone unanswered. The attorneys would take home more than $4 million in legal fees if the settlement goes through.
The questions began in March, the employee said, with workers contacting the attorneys who represent them on numerous occasions asking how to receive the opt-out form, how to contact other members of the class, how to receive the legal documents in Spanish, how to find the settlement agreement on the website set up by the attorneys, and how to revoke an already issued consent to join.
All the above-listed questions to the plaintiffs’ attorneys from Vail Resorts workers have gone unanswered, the Vail Resorts employee told the Vail Daily. The employees, in a common theme in the case, enjoy their jobs but are fearing retaliation from their employer and do not want their names shared.
But if members of the class wish to contact the judge in the case to ask the above-listed questions, their anonymity will not be protected, creating a hesitancy to do so.
“I prepared a letter to the presiding judge in the case … the court won’t accept the letter to the judge without providing proof of service to all attorneys in the case … which includes the Vail Resorts attorneys,” the employee told the Vail Daily. “So now, in order to get the judge to hear about the problems with the class counsel (in California), I would have to reveal my identity to Vail Resorts.”