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August 11, 2003
Taco Bell Settles Overtime Lawsuit
About 1,000 former employees of Taco Bell will share $1.5 million in a settlement of a lawsuit that alleged the company violated labor laws, the Associated Press reports.

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In a lawsuit a judge certified as a class action in 1999, about 13,000 employees at 45 restaurants in Oregon contended the fast-food chain violated overtime and meal-break rules, the AP reports.

The settlement covers about 1,000 employees who filed their claims in Multnomah County Circuit Court, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs. Taco Bell will distribute the settlement based on employees' length of service.

Taco Bell denied any wrongdoing.

"We've agreed to settle on damages to avoid further costs and uncertainties," Laurie Schalow, a company spokesperson at Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, Calif., tells the news agency. "Our policy is always to pay all of our employees for all the hours they work and we strive to treat all of our employees equitably."

The case already had been before a jury twice, in 2001 and 2002.

In 2001, a jury found that Taco Bell had willfully engaged in a pattern of wage and hour law violations, by making employees work off-the-clock or not paying for meal breaks, the AP reports.

In 2002, a second jury determined the number of unpaid hours worked by a small group of the plaintiffs, although no monetary damages were specified.

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